[This post may contain spoilers, but really, if you haven't seen Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, shame on you! Add it to your Netflix queue this instant!]
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is one of my all-time favorite movies. I was 10 or 11 when I first saw it and I was blown away by Indy’s swashbuckling and his dad’s wisecracks. It’s got everything: adventure, betrayal, humor, and a nice moral to boot.
But I’m not going to talk about my schoolgirl crushes on Harrison Ford or Sean Connery. Nor am I going to talk about the lesson at the end of the movie – if you’re looking for Christ’s cup, it’s probably not the gaudiest cup in the room – or the theological implications thereof.
When I watched this movie for the umpteenth time last weekend, the moment that resonated with me was a much smaller moment. Indiana and his father, Henry, are on a zeppelin heading out of Germany having a quiet chat. Indy points out that they haven’t done this since was a child.
Henry replies that he was “a wonderful father” because he never nagged Indiana the way all the other fathers nagged their sons. He crows, “I respected your privacy and I taught you self-reliance!”
Indiana snorts, “What you taught me is that I was less important to you than people that have been dead for five hundred years and in other countries, and I learned it so well that we’ve hardly spoken for 20 years.”
For the first time, I saw a parallel between this scene and my own life. I don’t like what I saw.
I’ve mentioned my sister before, who is mentally ill and lives in a group home. We were friends when we were young. We played together. We gossiped. We fought. We were sisters.
When she became ill, roughly half my lifetime ago, that changed. The sister I loved disappeared, never to return. She withdrew. She barely spoke, and when she did it seemed that she was responding more to the noise in her head than to the rest of us. She didn’t bathe. She became a bit of a hoarder. Before I left for college, I went through her room while she was out and recovered at least one garbage bag’s worth of my stuff.*
I’d like to say that this whole experience made me a better person, that I joined NAMI and advocated for my sister and people like her, that I devoted my life to assisting people in her condition, that I became an active and passionate assistant in her care. I’d like to say all that. Unfortunately, I need to tell the truth.
The truth is that I screwed up. I paid little attention to her at school. I told almost no one what was really going on at home. I went to college in a different state and seldom spoke of my past. I called home regularly and I always talked to Mom and Dad, but never to my sister. When I visited home, I’d have long discussions with my parents but say little to my sister. I told myself that that’s what she preferred, that if she wanted to talk to me, she’d do so.
I’ve worked at the same place for three years now. Most of my colleagues don’t even know that I have a sister.
My sister has improved after moving into a group home several years ago. I’ve made a few attempts to resuscitate our relationship. We’re friends on Facebook (yes, I reactivated it). I’ve sent cards and letters but never get a response. Does she think it’s too little, too late? Does she simply not know what to say?
Back to Last Crusade. Shortly after the scene I described above, the tank Indiana’s riding on goes over a cliff. Henry is distraught, thinking that his son is gone and so many things have been left unsaid. “Five minutes would have been enough.”
But Indiana has managed to escape and pulls himself up onto the cliff unnoticed. He comes to stand beside Henry, who’s overjoyed to see his son and gives him an enthusiastic hug. The Jones boys have father-son bonding after all, and at the end of the movie there’s hope for their relationship.
Somehow, I doubt my life will be like the movie.
*Yes, I realize what that says about me.