In the 2000 film “Cast Away,” Tom Hanks stars as the survivor of a plane crash who finds himself alone on a deserted island. in the Pacific Ocean. After weeks of working to physically survive, he then faces the deeper challenges of human existence, loneliness, hope, and faith.
To deal with his isolation, he begins a relationship with a volleyball, which he names Wilson and thereafter discusses everything going on in his mind with this unspeaking acquaintance. His hope is bolstered by a picture of the girlfriend he dreams of marrying. His faith in his ability to adapt and solve life’s problems wanes in time and, giving up, he tries to kill himself. Fate steps in, he fails, then recommits to finding a way off the island.
Yes, he escapes, but the ending isn’t what you’d call “Hollywood Happy.”
How do my wife and I compare to Hanks and his cast away life?
Certainly, we are cast aways too, a couple living with a disease that nobody around us wants to talk about.
Dementia. It’s difficult, it’s depressing, it’s death.
Even though we’re surrounded by a sea of other souls, none of them want to stop chasing their own dreams to visit our little island. True, I was one of them once.
So, like Hanks, we, mostly me, adapt. For now, I’m better off than Tom, who only had a volleyball to talk to. My wife can still smile, hug, and babble back at me. Also, the diet on our island, with occasional burritos and ice cream bars, is much better than Hanks menu of crunchy roasted crabs.
However, like millions of other caregivers and their dementia stricken loved ones, we won’t be escaping our island of loneliness to return to the wonders of a world left behind.
No “Hollywood Happy” endings here. But I’m keeping the faith that there will be moments of beauty, grace, and love.
That’s the best I can do.