When my maternal grandfather was 84, he and my grandmother were taking a weekend trip to a hotel in upstate New York. Before he left, he casually told us, out of the blue, that he wanted to leave his car to me and his watch to his son, my uncle Norman. He died the next evening, in his sleep.
I was convinced Grandpa Sam unequivocally knew he was going to die that weekend.
When you first meet 91-year-old Walter Leland at the beginning of the new film, Day of Days, you suspect he’s up to something.
Walter awakens, bathes, shaves and picks out a suit, shirt, tie and shoes as if he’s getting ready to go to his job. But the mood is somber in his dreary, spare apartment, Venetian blinds drawn, and it’s obvious that Walter, stooped over and wan looking, hasn’t worked in years. It’s also plain that he lives alone. He laboriously scribbles in a notebook. He removes what looks like a war medal from a box he apparently hasn’t opened in decades.
Enter Marisol, who is replacing Walter’s regular home care aide for the day. Although petite and dark-haired Marisol assiduously tries to communicate with Walter, and replicate his usual companion’s comforting and familiar routine, he becomes increasingly agitated, eventually tossing over his lunch tray onto the living room floor.
Walter apologizes to Marisol when he awakens from his nap, and here’s where the story starts to unwind. We learn that Walter, a World War II veteran, has lived in near isolation since he retired 20 years before as a city bus driver. Divorced long-ago, Walter allowed his wife’s new husband to adopt his only son, Bobby, while he endlessly fantasized he’d become a big-time baseball player. Now, Walter has dreamed that God has called him home, that he will die this day of days, and he tells Marisol the regrets of his life as he attempts to make peace with it all. “I was a drunk and a dreamer, and a damn bad husband and father,” he tells Marisol. “All I had left was a bad case of feeling sorry for myself.” (more…)