"Rest Home Runaways" – Clifford Henderson
An engaging look at the issues facing us as we get older, both in terms of our own relationships and the lives of our elderly parents.
86 year old and half blind Mac escapes from a rest home away-day and steals a car to fulfill a promise – driven on by his wife’s ghost. 3 octogenarian ladies rush to his rescue in the care-home mini-van and gain national TV coverage as the Runaway Grannies.
Meanwhile his lesbian daughter, Morgan, is having a crisis because her Alpha wife is obviously having an affair with a younger woman who is, almost certainly, not having hot flushes and suffering middle aged-spread. When the call comes that her father has disappeared she is determined to prove her capabilities and reassert her independence.
The ensuing chase reveals things to all involved. Mac finds out just what he is capable of, the ladies form a bond that will change their futures, and Morgan goes on a journey of self-discovery that will decide the fate of her marriage.
The story is full of humor and pathos, written with love and care. The characters are well developed, well rounded and delightful. Their life experiences shine from the page. All are drawn out by the ‘adventure’, challenging their own self-perception as well as our image of old folks and middle-aged women.
As much as anything this is about exploration, finding out who we are and who we are capable of being. Life can put us in boxes to do with our age that we aren’t ready for. In this charming story we watch as each group fights against those restraints and choses who they want to be - old and consigned to the scrap heap, or living life as an adventure to be taken.
This isn’t a romance, but it is full of romance none-the-less. Morgan and her wife, Treat, have had a happy and successful marriage. The life they have shared is revealed in the gentle touches of remembered experiences. The challenges we face of both aging and long term relationships are lightly drawn, but will resonate with all of us who face the issues of parent care and our own aging.
Funny and touching, this story held my interest and kept me turning the pages. Ms Henderson’s novel is brilliantly written and full of delightful observation. It would make a wonderful movie in the style of “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”.