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Cape Cod and the Islands.


BECOMING MOTHER'S MOM
A Two-Act Play



ACT I

SCENE: A cluttered living room. There are papers, pencils, school books, dishes with spoons in them, soda tins, crumpled potato chip bags, and clothes scattered around the set. A pile of unfolded laundry is stacked on the chairs. There's a coffee table and a hassock. Clutter spills over both of them. Beside one of the chairs is a small table with a telephone on it. A television sits off to the side of the set and there are dirty dishes on top of it. (If children are to appear on stage they are scattered around the set either spooning in cereal while doing homework, lolling on the floor watching TV, or sprawled in a chair playing a handheld digital game. When the phone rings all heads come up and listen while the answering machine picks up. When it's not for them they go back to what they were doing.)

As the lights come up ALTHEA, a harried woman enters, shuffles out of her shoes, puts down a battered briefcase and looks around the room.


ALTHEA: This place is a pig pen. Whose week was it to fold the laundry?

1st OFF STAGE VOICE: Hi mom.

ALTHEA: Don't change the subject. (Picks up a sock, sniffs it and is appaled.)

1st OFF STAGE VOICE: I folded it last week. This week I do the dishes.

ALTHEA: When?

2nd OFF STAGE VOICE: No. I do the dishes. This week you fold the laundry.

1st OFF STAGE VOICE: Ma, that's not true. Check out the list on the 'fridge. He's lying again.

ALTHEA: Stop fighting. If you want anything done around this house you have to do it yourself. (Stepping over clutter on the floor she begins folding the laundry.) When you grow up I just hope you have children just like you and then you'll know…

1st and 2nd OFF STAGE VOICES: (In unison) …how it feels.

ALTHEA: I'm not kidding. This isn't funny. That's a mother's curse and it works every time.

2nd OFF STAGE VOICE: Mom, we're not grown up yet, how do you know?

ALTHEA: You're going to bed right after supper tonight.

2nd OFF STAGE VOICE: (Whining.) Ma, why?

ALTHEA: Because I'm the mother that's why.

1st OFFSTAGE VOICE: Because mom loves me better than you.

ALTHEA: You're going to bed early, too. And no snack.

1st OFFSTAGE VOICE: You always make me a snack.

ALTHEA: Not tonight. (Sound of heavy foot falls going up the stairs. ALTHEA tosses the piece of laundry she's folding back on the pile, drops the pile to the floor, sinks into a chair and picks up the remote control. She snaps it several times at the television and doesn't notice when JAMES her older brother comes into the living room and stands behind her hair squinting at the television.) Did Uncle James call yet?

JAMES: I'm here. (Startled ALTHEA looks up as JAMES reaches over the chair and grabs the remote from her.) I thought only guys did that.

ALTHEA: Did what?

JAMES: (JAMES snaps the remote towards the television several times then kisses ALTHEA on the cheek, removes the clutter from the chair closest to ALTHEA and sits down.) How can you possibly know what you're looking at if you scroll through the channels that fast?

ALTHEA: I don't have to know what I'm looking at. When I come home after a day of teaching math to a bunch of kids who have no interest in math, to a house full of kids who have no interest in helping out by keeping it clean (If there are children on the set one-by-one they get up and leave) I'm brain dead. I don't need to know what's on. It's not going to register anyhow. When did you get here?

JAMES: About an hour ago.

ALTHEA: Did you bring mom?

JAMES: That was the whole point of the trip, wasn't it?

ALTHEA: (ALTHEA looks off stage. There is an uneasy pause.) Where is she?

JAMES: Upstairs. Sleeping. She sleeps all day and roams all night.

ALTHEA: That bad, huh?

JAMES: That bad. She's more confused, Thea. We had to put locks on the doors so she wouldn't wander out at night while we're asleep. We had to take all the mirrors down. Each time she walked by one she'd say, 'Who's that old lady?' and when we explained it was her she was devastated. Unless it was one of the times she didn't believe us. And there were a lot of times like that.

ALTHEA: She sounded all right the last time I talked to her on the phone.

JAMES: When was that?

ALTHEA: Yesterday afternoon.

JAMES: Early yesterday afternoon?

ALTHEA: Yeah.

JAMES: That's why. She fine in the early afternoon but as the day wears on… It's like living with a vampire. The sun goes down and she comes u[. God knows what she's up to at night. Lena and I took turns staying awake to watch her but finally we just couldn't do it anymore.

ALTHEA: Where is Lena? Did she come with you? (JAMES nods.)

JAMES: She had to come along. I couldn't manage this by myself. After we got mom settled in bed Lena went out jogging. She had to get away for awhile.

ALTHEA: Get away from what? The kids? Mom? The house?

JAMES: I wasn't going to say anything about the house. I was going to think it but I wasn't going to say it.

ALTHEA: Smart move.

JAMES: You don't know what it's like to be cooped up in a plane with mom for a couple of hours. Most of the burden fell on Lena.

ALTHEA: Poor Lena. What a cross.

JAMES: Don't start.

ALTHEA: I can't help being angry. It's not just at Lena. Or mom. Or you. I'm angry all the time at everybody and everything. Look at this place. Look at my life. Look at me. I'm falling apart here, James. The deal was mom would stay with you for six months and then come back here. It's been two months. What happened?

JAMES: A lot of things happened.

ALTHEA: Oh yeah? Well 'a lot of things happened' while she was here with me. George upped and walked out. Yeah, that's right. He left me. Said he couldn't take raising teenagers and mom. The confusion tipped our relationship over the edge. He doesn't want to be married anymore and I'm not sure I want to be either.

JAMES: He'll be back.

ALTHEA: You think so? Really? The kids are still fighting and failing in school. Jenna's still crazy about that god-awful kid in her class. When mom was staying here she told Jenna she's looking forward to having grandchildren. You know how Jenna feels about mom. Anything for Nana! Jenna's not even seventeen and that idiot boyfriend mom thought was so cute? Almost twenty. He's still a senior in high school. He's going to be there for the rest of his life and now mom's back. You think George's going to come home to this? I don't think so. (ALTHEA gets up and begins to clean up the clutter by rearranging it into piles. A door slams offstage and LENA, James wife enters. LENA is wearing a jogging suit. LENA gives ALTHEA a quick cold hug while ALTHEA stiffens. ) I hear you had a rough time on the plane, Lena.

LENA: (Picks up one of the unfolded towels, wipes her face and neck then throws the towel over the back of one of the chairs and it falls to the floor. She ignores it.) You haven't heard the half of it. I'll bet James didn't tell you about the plane ride, did you James?

ALTHEA: Life is hard. (JAMES shoots ALTHEA an imploring look.)

LENA: She insisted on wearing a garish wide brimmed red hat covered in ostrich feathers. Guaranteed to keep the sun off her face and the face of anyone who came within twenty feet of her. As if that wasn't bad enough she put on a purple tee-shirt with big red letters across the front (LENA draws her hand across her chest as though spelling out each work.) 'I'm a red hot mama.' I tried to get it off of her before we left the house but it was so tight her arms got stuck.

ALTHEA: Where did she get such an outfit?

LENA: She joined the Red Hats.

ALTHEA: The Red Hats?

JAMES: It's a group of older women who get together and do things.

ALTHEA: What kind of things?

LENA: Gambling. She blows her social security checks and then invites our next-door neighbor over, cleans him out at poker and then it's off for another day of throwing away her money. His money, actually. Another time they went out for Indian food.

ALTHEA: Who? Her and the neighbor next door?

LENA: No, her and the Red Hats.

ALTHEA: What's wrong with that?

LENA: Nothing. Except they had a belly dancing lesson while they were there. The next time we went in to pick up her prescription she showed the pharmacist her new found talent and the fake diamond she had glued to her navel. (ALTHEA starts to say something but LENA holds up her hand to stop her.) And, and, they went to a dinner theatre for something called Finnegan's wake. It's a fake wake. There's a coffin up on a stage with this actor, Finnegan, in it. The widow, the undertaker, and the deceased's girlfriend float around while people are eating. During dessert and coffee people are invited to come up on stage and say a few words about the 'deceased.' So, your mother and her Red Hat girl friends get up on stage and start telling how wonderful he was. Then your mother says, 'Johnny was so good in bed,' and tries to crawl into the casket.

ALTHEA: What? James! That was dad's name.

LENA: (Crosses her heart.) I'm not making this up.

ALTHEA: Why didn't you stop her?

LENA: How could I? I wasn't there. The companion we hired to stay with her during the day while we're at work took her that night. She's the one that got her to join the Red Hats. But that's not the worst of it.

JAMES: Lena.

LENA: Wait till you hear this.

JAMES: Lena!

LENA: When we got on the plane in Miami we had three seats in a row. James had the aisle seat, I was cramped into the middle and your mom had the seat next to the window. When the steward came around with snacks she leaned over me….

JAMES: Lena!

LENA: …and said in a voice loud enough to shatter ear drums, 'I love white trash. Is there any on board?'

ALTHEA: That's it. James, I love mom but I can't deal with any of this right now. You have to take her home. With you and Lena. Your life's uncomplicated. You only have one son….

LENA: (Interrupting) …and four grandchildren. Didn't James tell you?

ALTHEA: Tell me what?

LENA: Our son's job was outsized to China. He lost his job, Althea. He moved back home. With his wife. With our four grandchildren and a mixed breed dog that knocked your mother over twice and ate a feather boa she won at a Red Hat meeting. When we tried to explain how expensive it was to take the dog to the vets because she left the boa around where the dog could get it. She grinned and said, 'It'll pass.' Your mother does not accept guilt trips. She knows how to give 'em but she doesn't know how to take 'em.

ALTHEA: Can't you stick it out for a little longer? Please? (LENA shakes her head.) George called last night. It's the first time he's called since he left home. It really sounded like we might have a chance to get back together. The kids miss him. I miss him terribly. We were supposed to go out tonight for dinner to talk it over.Then you called this morning and I had to call him back and cancel. Look at this house, Lena. Look at me! This house looks like how I'm feeling inside and out. I can't take care of mom anymore and I feel so guilty. James, remember when we were sick or couldn't sleep she'd let us stay up late and make us snacks? If I had a nightmare she'd rock me on her lap until I was ready to go back to bed and then she'd tuck me in. I feel so guilty but I just can't take care of her. My life's coming apart.

LENA: We can't take care of her either.

ALTHEA: The last time she was here she needed help taking a bath and I had to bathe her. Do you know how embarrassing that was?

LENA: Lately, she's been confusing James with your father. She thinks James is your father. Do you know how embarrassing that is?

ALTHEA: While she was staying with you did she ever ask you where her mother was?

LENA: Lots of times.

ALTHEA: She did that here, too. How did you handle it?

LENA: I'd try to reorient her. I'd ask how old she was then I'd ask her how old her mother would be if she was still alive. Then she'd get it and start to cry, get mad at me and say, 'Why didn't somebody tell me my mother was dead?' (LENA throws up her hands and turns her back on LENA.) Well, how did you handle it? Huh?

ALTHEA: I was sensitive enough, not tell her her mother was dead and cut a fresh wound in her heart each time she asked.

JAMES: (JAMES holds up his hand to keep LENA from speaking.) What did you say to her?

ALTHEA: 'She'll be back a little later.'

LENA: And a little later, when she didn't come back? What did you say then, huh?

ALTHEA: By then she would have forgotten.

LENA: She's forgetting more and more, Althea. She either forgets to take her medicine or she takes it several times a day. It's gotten to the point that we just have to get in the car and it goes automatically to the emergency room at Lakeville Hospital.

ALTHEA: Sometimes she'll ask me if I know her mother. Other times she'll say, 'You're a nice girl. Where's your mother?' It breaks my heart. She's beginning to forget who I am.

JAMES: She's beginning to forget who she is, Thea, and it's getting worse. We've got to put our feelings aside and do what's best for her.

ALTHEA: And for us.

JAMES: Yes, and for us. If we burn out who does she have? Where will she be? Where will she go, Thea? We've got to start planning and it's almost too late. We're there. We're at the crossroads. She can't live alone. She can't live with us. What's left? What are our options? You tell me.

ALTHEA: I don't know.

JAMES: Neither do I but we can't go on like this anymore. Not you, not me, not Lena, not mom. We just can't do it anymore.

(ALTHEA and JAMES stand face-to-face for a moment then JAMES opens his arms and ALTHEA walks into his embrace as the lights dim.)

ACT II


The lights come half way up. There are pizza boxes and empty soda cans on the floor around the chair where EDNA, an elderly woman, is sitting facing the television. The clutter has grown somewhat. EDNA is wearing a night gown and is bare foot. She claps her hands several times then finally gets up, lumbers over to the television set and punches the top of it then sits back down and claps her hands again. No success. She is about to get up again when ALTHEA enters and switches on the lights. ALTHEA is wearing a nightgown, bathrobe and slippers.

ALTHEA: Mom? What are you doing up this late? It's three a.m.

EDNA: I was trying to watch stupid the television but the damn thing's deader than a door nail. Do you have a screw driver? I think I could fix it.

ALTHEA: (Picks up the remote and points it at the TV.) It's not broken. See? It's working.

EDNA: How'd you do that?

ALTHEA: With the remote. You used to use the remote when you were here before. Here. (ALTHEA hands the remote to EDNA.)

EDNA: (Looks at the remote for awhile, turns it over several times then tucks it into the cushion of the chair.) I don't want to watch television anymore. There's nothing worth watching. I'll wait for the evening news. That should be on soon.

ALTHEA: Aren't you cold? It's freezing in here. Do you want a sweater and some warm socks?

EDNA: If you think it's freezing in here you should see what it's like outside. You'll freeze your kazoozies off if you go out there. And I think that couple's dog followed us here. It tried to bite me just now. Look. (EDNA holds up the torn hem of her nightgown.)

ALTHEA: (Kneels down and examines EDNA'S leg.) What happened? Where have you been?

EDNA: I don't know. Nothing. I'm okay. It was that stupid dog. Thank God all he got was the hem of my dress. He followed me inside the house but I managed to chase him out.

ALTHEA: Is that why the front door was wide open when I came down stairs? You were chasing a dog outside?

EDNA: I wasn't chasing a dog outside. He was inside and I had to get rid of him.

ALTHEA: How'd he get inside?

EDNA: I went for a walk and he followed me inside.

ALTHEA: You went for a walk? It's three o'clock in the morning.

EDNA: Don't take that tone with me, lady. You're not my mother.

ALTHEA: Supposing you were outside and I came down the stairs, saw the front door open, shut it and locked you out.

EDNA: But you didn't.

ALTHEA: But I could have.

EDNA: Wouldn't be the first time.

ALTHEA: Aha! You remember!

EDNA: Remember what?

ALTHEA: When you were here last winter. Remember? You went outside after I went to work because you wanted to get the newspaper. The door locked behind you and it began to snow, remember? You could have died of hypothermia if the mailman hadn't noticed you sitting on the porch and taken you along on his route.

EDNA: He saw me, right? (ALTHEA shakes her head.) I didn't die, did I? (ALTHEA shakes her head again.) So what's the big deal? I don't get it. Talk about making a mole hill out of a mountain. (ALTHEA picks an afghan up off the floor, shakes it out and tucks it around EDNA.) Thanks. (JAMES enters. He's wearing pajamas, a bathrobe and slippers.) I know you.

JAMES: Of course you know me, mom. I'm James.

EDNA: James?

JAMES: Your son James, mom. I'm James.

EDNA: (To ALTHEA) This is the fellow who scared the elephant out of my back yard. You wouldn't believe how fast elephants move when you throw a scare into them.

JAMES: It was an alligator, mom, an alligator and it was beside the house.

ALTHEA: An alligator? What are you talking about?

JAMES: (To ALTHEA) There's an alligator that suns itself every morning on the boat ramp beside our house.

EDNA: Florida's crawling with alligators. Alligators, hurricanes, and old people. They're all over the place.

JAMES: You're an old people, mom.

EDNA: I am no such thing. Just because you're old, don't pick on me. (To ALTHEA) The place is crawling with fire ants, too. One time I had to go to the hospital because they crawled inside my shoes. I felt like my feet were on fire. I couldn't stick them in the water by the boat ramp because that damn elephant was there.

JAMES: (To ALTHEA) It happened more than once. I've tried to warn her. Lena even put a fence around the base of the orange tree where the ant hill is but mom kept stepping over it.

ALTHEA: Why don't you just get rid of them?

JAMES: Did you ever try to get rid of fire ants.

ALTHEA: I don't have to. I live in a civilized place.

JAMES: Oh yeah? I forgot.

EDNA: (To ALTHEA) I like your kids.

ALTHEA: Thank you.

JAMES: Where did all the pizza boxes come from?

EDNA: The kids ordered pizza and we watched wrestling and some awful cartoon about overweight characters in tights and capes. That daughter of yours…

ALTHEA: Which one? Jenna?

EDNA: How many do you have?

ALTHEA: Three girls, two boys.

EDNA: Maybe it was her. No fun at all. She's not a kid, she's a midget. Kept saying you didn't allow them to watch wrestling…

ALTHEA: I don't.

EDNA: …and kept hounding her brother about his homework…

ALTHEA: That wasn't Jenna.

EDNA: I finally had to put my foot down and tell her they could all skip their homework today.

JAMES: It's tonight, mom. Tonight. It's after three a.m.

EDNA: Then it's not tonight, is it. It's tomorrow. It doesn't matter anyhow because they all got tired and snuck up to bed when I was in the kitchen making dessert.

ALTHEA: You made dessert. You were alone in the kitchen making dessert? What did you make?

EDNA: Candy. I made some candy. It's in the kitchen. Help yourself.

JAMES: You made candy?

EDNA: (To JAMES) Isn't that what I just said? (To ALTHEA) Didn't I just say that? (ALTHEA nods.) Honey, you wouldn't believe the candy I used to make. When my kids were little they used to call me the fudge queen.

JAMES: You used the stove? (Without waiting for EDNA to answer JAMES gets up and hurries offstage to the kitchen.)

EDNA: He's a worry wart. I guess he has his reasons though. He has this thing about stoves because he's not too careful around them. Last year his house caught fire …

JAMES: (Entering. He's carrying a small dish of candy that he puts down on the coffee table.) Not last year, mom. That was two days ago. Remember? You forgot to turn the fire off on the stove when you were making breakfast and the dog knocked a box of cereal onto the burner. It went up in flames.

EDNA: I don't remember that but I do remember the dog knocked me down. You're just lucky I didn't break anything or my mother would have sued you. (Turning to ALTHEA) Have you seen my mother?

ALTHEA: She's around.

EDNA: Where?

ALTHEA: I think she went to the store. She'll be back.

EDNA: (Turning to JAMES) I think she's lying. Have you seen my mother?

JAMES: Mom….

ALTHEA: (Cutting him off) Don't you think it's time to go up to bed?

EDNA: I just got up.

JAMES: (Pulls the hassock over close to EDNA'S chair and takes her hand in his.) Mom? Remember what we talked about before we left Florida. (EDNA shakes her head.) Try to think back. What did we talk about?

EDNA: I don't know.

JAMES: Yes, you do. (EDNA shakes her head again.) Mom you can't take care of yourself anymore.

EDNA: I have always taken care of myself. And I had children one time and I took care of them too. And a husband. And a house. Once I get back to my own house I'll be just fine. I knew where everything was back there. I was comfortable there.

JAMES: You can't manage on your own anymore, mom. You're kind of, kind of, kind of…

ALTHEA: …Kind of forgetful, mom. We all are. Sometimes.

EDNA: (Agitated.) I've got to get home.

JAMES: You don't have a home anymore, mom. You've been living with us.

EDNA: My mother's going to be wondering where I am. She'll be worried. If I get home late I'll be in trouble. (EDNA tries to stand but the afghan is wrapped around her legs. She tries to pull it free and can't.)

JAMES: Mom, you need to be in some place where people can take care of you. Twenty-four hours a day.

EDNA: My children can take care of me.

JAMES: No mom. We can't. Not anymore. We used to be able to do it but we can't anymore. It's not safe.

EDNA: I didn't ask you to take care of me. (EDNA tries to struggle out of the afghan and stand up. ALTHEA gently tucks the afghan back in place and tries to smooth EDNA'S hair.)

JAMES: Althea and I were talking a little earlier and we've both come to the same conclusion.

EDNA: Which is?

JAMES: Which is what we talked about in Florida.

EDNA: There you go again. I don't want to hear it.

JAMES: You have to. Remember we talked about a nursing home.

ALTHEA: Try it for a month. If you don't like it you can come back home. (EDNA pushes ALTHEA'S hand away.)

EDNA: Home? Where?

ALTHEA: Here. You could come back here.

EDNA: (Thinks this over while JAMES and ALTHEA hold their breath.) Why would I want to come back here when I've got my own home? I have to go back home and take care of my mother. You know what she used to say? 'One mother can raise five children but five children can't raise one mother.' (Turns to JAMES) You've heard that before, haven't you?

JAMES: Something like it, yes. 'One mother can take care of five children….

EDNA: (Turns to ALTHEA) How many children do you have?

ALTHEA: Five.

EDNA: What a coincidence. Do you think that someday one of them will be able to take care of you? (ALTHEA shrugs.) I don't think so. Wait and see.

ALTHEA: Mom….

EDNA: Did you know that Eskimos used to put their elderly out on ice floes?

JAMES: Please, mom.

EDNA: They put them on the ice floes for the polar bears.

VOICE OFFSTAGE: I studied that in school. The old people wanted to go out on the ice floes because it had to do with the scarcity of food during poor hunting seasons when….

JAMES: (Shouting) Don't you kids ever go to sleep?

EDNA: There she is again. Doesn't she ever give up? I'll bet she made them all do their homework while I was in the kitchen making dessert.

VOICE OFFSTAGE: I'm hungry.

ALTHEA: The pizza's gone. There's no food in the house. You ate it all up. Go back to bed. (Sound of footsteps stamping up the stairs.) James? I want to talk to mom alone for awhile. Do you mind.

JAMES: Not at all. (Sub-rosa to ALTHEA) Good luck! (EDNA reaches up for a good night kiss but he's turned away.)

ALTHEA: (After JAMES' exit.) I can't take care of you. I'm sorry. (ALTHEA presses her hands against her lips to keep from crying.) I'm so sorry. I've never been sorrier about anything in my entire life. I just….I just…mama, I miss you so much.

EDNA: (EDNA notices the candy dish on the table and offers it to ALTHEA who takes a piece.) There is nothing like a piece of good candy to cheer a person up. (EDNA moves over and pats the chair beside her.) Sit down. (ALTHEA takes a bite of candy.) Isn't that good?

ALTHEA: It's wonderful

EDNA: (EDNA pats the chair again and ALTHEA squeezes in beside EDNA.) Don't you feel better now? (ALTHEA shakes her head and takes another nibble of the candy.) What's your name?

ALTHEA: Althea.

EDNA: Althea. Isn't life strange? I mean here we are sitting together and your name is Althea and years ago I knew someone by that same name.

ALTHEA: Did you?

EDNA: Yes.

ALTHEA: What was she like?

EDNA: Very nice. A sweet little girl. You would have liked her.

ALTHEA: Maybe.

EDNA: Not maybe; definitely. Everyone loved Althea.

ALTHEA: Who was she?

EDNA: A little girl I used to know. (EDNA reaches over and takes a piece of candy.) Isn't this candy good?

ALTHEA: It's wonderful. And you made it?

EDNA: I did. Yes, indeed. I made it for the kids that live in this house but then they went upstairs and left me alone. I guess they had to go to bed or do their homework or something.

ALTHEA: (Holds a piece of candy up and examines it before taking another bite.) What kind of fudge is this?

EDNA: It's not fudge. It's called White Trash. I love White Trash.

ALTHEA: (Laughs) Me too. And red hats.

EDNA: I have one. You want to see it?

ALTHEA: Maybe tomorrow. I hear you had a boa too.

EDNA: (Laughs) Don't even go there! Say, I think there's still some pizza in one of those boxes. You want some? (ALTHEA nods and gets up to get the pizza.) You know, I just remembered something. I had a daughter named Althea once. I love that name.

ALTHEA: What happened to her?

EDNA: I don't know.

ALTHEA: It doesn't matter. We can pretend that I'm that daughter and you're my mom.

EDNA: No, we couldn't do that.

ALTHEA: Why not?

EDNA: Because I couldn't be your mother.

ALTHEA: Why? (The lights begin to dim.)

EDNA: You're too old. Althea is a little girl.

ALTHEA: Mom?

EDNA: Umm?

ALTHEA: I am Althea?

EDNA: (EDNA looks at her closely.) Come here. (ALTHEA kneels down and EDNA cradles ALTHEA'S face in her hands.) You know something? I think you're right. You are Althea but…

ALTHEA: But what, mom?

EDNA: If you're Althea, how did I get so old?

ALTHEA: We all get old, mom. Come on. I'll take you up to bed and tuck you in.

END OF PLAY

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
  1. Who did you identify with in this play?
  2. Why did you identify with that particular character and not one of the other characters?
  3. What is your greatest fear about growing old?
  4. When did you first start to feel that life was speeding up?
  5. Where were you when you had to make the most difficult decision of your life?
  6. What do you think would be the hardest part of being an aging parent?
  7. What do you think is the hardest part about caring for an aging parent?
  8. If you had the choice what disability would you choose…physical decline or cognitive loss?
  9. Do you feel that Althea and James eventually placed Edna in a nursing home?
  10. Do you feel that Althea should have felt guilty about her feelings? Why, or why not?
  11. What were your feelings about Lena?
  12. What were your feelings about George leaving Althea to cope with life on her own?
  13. Would you ever consider going into a nursing home as a resident, a visitor or a volunteer? If so why, or why not?
  14. Are there any experiences you would like to share about the aging process?
  15. Do you agree with Honore de Balzac that, "The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness"?

   

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