Home: A Documentary About Four Families (Part IV)

The fourth and final sequence of Julie Gustafson and John Reilly's documentary HOME which portrays a young man who gives up his job to care for his terminally-ill mother in her home. He sums up a mejor theme of the video: "she has never turned her back on anybody, so why should I?" Co-produced by the Television Laboratory of WNET and aired on public television in 1979. Tom Shales of THE WASHINGTON POST wrote, "HOME has immediacy and impact possible with no other medium but television, and an inquisitive compassion that turns cold video images warm and real." Originally shot in 3/4" Color and B&W video. See HOME Parts1-3 on Media Burn at https://mediaburn.org/video/home-pt-1-of-2/

00:09Copy video clip URL “Part IV: The Death of a Parent”: Introductory text observes that death from serious illness usually takes place in hospitals, where the “emphasis is usually on the treatment of the disease rather than on the emotional concerns of the dying person.” Elizabeth Donnelley is a 65-year-old widow who is dying of cancer. She will be spending her final months in her Manhattan home, cared for by her son George and her daughter Rosemary.  Elisabeth is lying in a hospital bed in her apartment while her children and her sister Loretta speak with her. 

01:48Copy video clip URL Loretta, George, and Rosemary discuss Elizabeth’s situation and their decision to bring her home.

03:05Copy video clip URL In the middle of the night, George brings his mother a glass of water to comfort her as she coughs, and then reflects on the disease being “ugly.”

05:20Copy video clip URL George makes breakfast. Elizabeth’s mother and sister are there look through family photo albums.

07:12Copy video clip URL Early morning. George talks about how it’s always worst first thing in the morning and then, with great difficulty, changes his mother’s sheets.

09:06Copy video clip URL Elizabeth’s family comforts her as she drifts in and out of sleep. 

12:47Copy video clip URL A nurse arrives for her regular appointment to check in on Elizabeth. George reflects on the nature of “hope” when dealing with a terminally ill family member. 

15:12Copy video clip URL Elizabeth’s daughter Anna and granddaughter Lauren arrive. Anna tries to speak with Elizabeth, who is mostly unresponsive. 

17:10Copy video clip URL Several nights later George tries to comfort Elizabeth. He worries that because of her difficulties communicating he cannot understand what she’s feeling, but he knows she’s doing very bad and might not live through the night. Onscreen text reveals that she died later that day. 

19:58Copy video clip URL Elizabeth’s friends and family gather at the funeral home. 

20:55Copy video clip URL George talks about discovering that his mother had died, which “happened so fast and went so easy. And everything was exactly the way it should be. All three of us were there. All three of us were awake when it happened. And she knew we were there, because she cried. I wiped tears from her eyes while we talked.”

22:43Copy video clip URL The funeral mass. 

24:00Copy video clip URL George talks about feeling guilty for not taking better care of his father or spending more time with him, and how he wanted to avoid repeating that experience with his mother. 

24:56Copy video clip URL Friends and family pay their respects at the cemetery.

26:06Copy video clip URL End credits. 

 

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