Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Grieving and Tears in Full House
I'm sure there must be personality types out there that don't make memory connections the way an ISFJ does. Lucky you.
Last week, I'm sitting down to a few episodes of Full House. I'm in the 7th season now, where Jesse and Becky have been married for a few years, all the girls in the household are growing up, and Joey still can't keep a girlfriend to save his life. Oh, and Danny's fiance just left him. Which sucks.
What I didn't expect was my last episode of the night, called The Last Dance. Jesse's grandfather, called papouli in Greek, comes all the way from Greece to visit the family. He's a kindly old codger with a heart of gold who teaches little Michelle how to do a traditional dance, and then shows the family how to make traditional Greek food. He's loving and passionate, and I loved watching Jesse interact with the grandfather he obviously adores so much.
Here we have Papouli teaching the girls how to make some sort of Greek bread that requires a ton of flour. More of it got on them than in the dough as you can see down below.
It's a sweet scene of family reunion and the girls getting to know their great-grandfather.
And here Papouli is teaching Michelle a traditional Greek dance. I'm not sure what's more adorable: the fact that she's dancing with her grandfather or that outfit she's wearing.
I should probably start reading summaries. Halfway through the episode, Papouli dies. He's only been in their household for a few small hours, but already, he's indented himself on the hearts of the Tanner family. Michelle comes home from school and the family has to tell her that he passed away in the night. After breaking the craft project she'd made for her great-grandfather, Michelle rushes upstairs to cry in private. Stephanie follows her and gently tells her that it's okay to cry and miss Papouli, but she can't cry in front of Uncle Jesse because it will make him cry too. And everyone knows that Jesse doesn't like crying in front of other people.
I'm starting to get a little emotional at this point, but nothing major. I'm often moved to empathy with no tears.
Michelle keeps her feelings under control. Jesse makes arrangements to take his grandfather's body back to Greece. During a school day, Jesse answers the phone and it's Michelle's school. She didn't show up for class. He's just hanging up the phone when he notices a little hand set an empty pudding cup on the rim of the sailing boat that Danny (dad in the family) just bought. Sure enough, it's Michelle.
In typical Jesse fashion, he gets Michelle to reveal herself by setting a full pudding cup on the edge of the boat and then snatches her hand when she reaches for it.
They do some talking, and Jesse uncovers the real reason why she's acting all fine when he knows she's not. She doesn't want to make him feel bad by crying in front of him. Making him uncomfortable is the last thing she wants to do.
At this point, Jesse realizes that his lack of connection to his feelings is actually hurting his little niece. He's in agony over the death of his grandfather. It tears him up inside, but he's afraid to show it because "tough guys" don't cry. In her understanding way, Michelle tells Jesse that it's alright for him to be sad, that he needs to let himself be sad.
Then Michelle looks at him, her face wrinkling up, and she whispers, "Uncle Jesse, is it okay to cry?" He replies, "You bet."
And I lost it.
They're holding each other close . . . Jesse's first real opportunity to cry and bring healing, and everything inside me just burst apart.
I lost my grandmother a few years ago. She lived to a ripe old age in her early 90s and died a devout Christian. We didn't attend the memorial services that went contrary to her wishes. I cried off and on for a week and then I locked all the emotions away. It has literally been years, since the time of her death, since I've cried over her.
But I cried over her that night. I cried because she'll never attend my wedding, never meet my future husband (whoever he might be), never meet my children. I'll never smell her perfume again, never eat the little wedges of energy bars she fed me when I was kid, and never watch her crochet again. She'll never laugh at my jokes, go blackberry picking with me, or try to pretend that she doesn't mind our cats. She's gone. There is an empty place in my heart now that can never be filled by anything else. It's a grandma sized hole where only she belongs. I'll see her again, when I join her in the hereafter, but I wanted more time with her here on earth. Just like Jesse wanted more time with his Papouli.
Never in a million years did I anticipate that an episode of Full House would be the open door to teaching me to grieve for my grandmother. It had to come from a character I connect to, a character that I love, and Uncle Jesse is my favorite character on the show, hands down. When he feels something, I tend to feel it too. So when he felt that loss, it just brought every wall I ever erected against the pain crashing down around me. I doubt it would have happened with any other character in any other show, except maybe Stiles in Teen Wolf.
So, I really need to thank the writers of Full House, all these many years later, for writing a show from the heart. And to thank John Stamos for breathing Jesse to life. Who knows how long I would have gone without facing the pain of loss and let healing start to run its course. Knowing me, it might have been another 10 years before I would start to cope. Thank you, Full House.
As one final photo, here you have Jesse taking Papouli's place in Michelle's class where Papouli was going to show them the Greek dance. Jesse doesn't like to do these sorts of things in public, but he did it for Michelle. It's absolutely precious.