Monday, October 10, 2011
I watched this movie a few years ago, and revisited it today. I found that nothing had changed in the interim, my emotions were still engaged, and laughter and tears flowed as freely the second time through as they did the first. A Wedding With Bella is not so much a movie, as it is an experience. It is the experience of life and it's tapestry of relationships; of connections and kinship; of neighborhoods and cultures; of parents and children; of love and faithfulness.
One of the main characters of this movie is Bella, a lovely old Italian immigrant who reminds me in many ways of my late mother-in-law. Like Bella, my mother-in-law was strong in character; with a strength wrapped in gentleness, humbleness of spirit, wisdom, tremendous love and a heart for service, that always put the needs of others above her own. She had a full and enduring marriage with my father-in-law. Although Bella only had one daughter, and my mother-in-law three sons, the strength of relationship that Bella enjoys with Dominic, her son by choice and love, is the same type that my mother-in-law enjoyed with all three of her sons. They were beautiful relationships to be a witness to. Like Bella, my mother-in-law also passed away after a brief six month battle with cancer. A sad time for the family, who strove to find their footing in the void left with her loss.
The relationships in this movie moved me.
The relationship between Dom and his brothers, particularly his older brother Pino, a loving mentally challenged individual whose innocence and pie making skills leaves one smiling with wonder, and filled with an indescribable joy. He loves with all his heart, without reservation, rancor or malice. His heart, like Bella's, is pure, as is the case with many. I think of a close relation at this point, who has high functioning asperges and like Pino, is a person without guile, having a special beauty of soul that normal ordinary people could never aspire to. They are God's special gifts to humanity. Then there was Dom's relationship with his brother Eddie. A closeness forged even deeper through the sudden loss of their mother. It speaks to responsibility and to love. Juggling two job so that he can help provide for his family and make sure of their security. A job he hated to help make things easier for the bakery he owned with his brothers and which he loved.
The relationship that Dom shared with Bella and her husband Massimo, was that of a parent and child. Even though he wasn't a son by blood, he was a son by spirit. The lovingly adversarial relationship he shared with Massimo brought smiles to my lips and heart, as they hurled insults at one another, keeping each other on their toes, needing each other. This in contrast to the gentle and caring relationship he shared with Bella, one overflowing with love and delight.
The lessons in this movie taught me.
Earning a very good salary and living in a luxury high-rise apartment, he could have chosen to turn his back on his roots or on his brothers, but instead he chose to include them, to make them a priority. They lived with him and he started the bakery business for them. He chose to care for Bella and Massimo even though he could have chosen to keep their relationship at a superficial level.
Life is too short to do something you no longer love. Not everyone can do that, so I believe this is a conditional lesson. Dom loves to bake. He loves making bread, kneading the dough, smelling the baking bread. It's tactile, comforting and joyful in its simplicity. Sometimes we allow life to become too complicated, filled with noise. Sometimes it's good to take a new look at your life, to see what it is you are living, to reevaluate and to change.
Love fully, because who knows when disease or accidents of nature or man might strike. Serve with gratefulness and love, because in the end it is all about relationships. It is the memory and impact you had on the lives of others that leaves it's lasting mark. The high rise apartment can crumble away, and be empty, the money disappear and fail to satisfy, the temporary pleasures give way to greater loneliness and emptiness, echoes of nothingness.
THese were the lessons I walked away with from this little gem of a movie. I don't know what impact if any it will have for you, but I encourage you to give it a try. Why don't you consider having your own Wedding With Bella.