I’ve never been much of a television watcher. When we were young, before cable came along, we had about five channels to choose from, and Mom preferred for us to read or play over watching the “goon tube.” And of of course, once I learned to read, my longing for the television faded into the background for me. I found more enjoyment from the words (and worlds) on the pages than I did on the silly shows those few channels aired.
But I remember distinctly watching Bill Kennedy at the Movies with my mom during the afternoon when Tara was sleeping and I was home from kindergarten. Mom would pull out the ironing board and the load of laundry and click on the television, which at that time might even have been black and white. Bill Kennedy, the host, would give some information about the vintage movie of the day, and then, off we’d go. Into TV land for the next 90 minutes.
Bill had a very soothing voice, one that lulled me in every time, and I’m certain that those lazy afternoons are the reason I still have a penchant for old movies. Some of my favorites? Imitation of Life, To Have and Have Not, Arsenic and Old Lace, Ben-Hur, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s and An Affair to Remember.
Mom didn’t watch much television beyond those shows, but as she got older, we’d find her in the den, doing bills while listening to movies on the Hallmark Channel. Eventually, once my parents had put a television in the kitchen, we’d also find her with the TV on when she was cooking or cleaning, or any number of other things. And now, a couple of years into an Alzheimer’s Diagnosis, television is about the only interest she has. From the moment she walks in the door to the moment she goes up to bed, she’ll sit and watch show after show.
I wonder if she can even follow a story arc anymore, or if the moving images are simply entertaining her, concrete “things” that can keep her amused because everything else abstract is just too hard to do.
I also wonder if she remembers Bill Kennedy and those sweet afternoons we spent together. If I remember to do so, I’ll ask her the next time I see her.