We just watched a movie with some friends called Make Way for Tomorrow. Released in 1937 it is the story of an older couple, married 50 years, who have lost their home to the bank and will have no where to live. They have 5 grown children all about mid-40s and no one will take in both parents--just one. So the parents are forced to split up and live separately for what will likely be the end of their days. There is no happy resolution and the film ends with the father headed to California to live with a daughter while the mother will be sent to a "home for aged women".
This was a strange film in many ways--historically, 8 years on from the Great Depression, it clearly was reflecting the time, but the very title "make way for tomorrow" says all that the movie itself will say.
However, "tomorrow" is selfish and horrible. The pettiness of the children is monstrous and nearly unbelievable. A step-daughter cannot bear to have the mother even present at her "bridge club lesson" (she teaches bridge) where all the "students" are adults dressed in formal evening wear!
I often imagine a time, and that time must have been prior to the locomotive, when families stayed together, and I lament our modern detachment--but shit, this is 1937! When exactly were the "good old days"?
And of course I write this with a mother in Phoenix and family no closer than about 3 hours drive. But, I have promised--no matter the circumstances--I will care for my parents as they need it. I can think of no greater responsibility.