Trip To Bountiful
The Trip To Bountiful by Horton Foote is a very lovely literary piece about the relationship of an old woman with her son and his wife. Mrs. Carrie Watts was a widow who was forced by circumstances to live with her son, Ludie, and daughter-in-law, Jessie Mae, in Houston. For five years, Mrs. Watts had been longing to go back to her hometown called Bountiful but they would not take her. Jessie Mae believes that it is just a waste of money and time. Ludie was the soft-spoken type so he did what his wife would order.
Mrs. Watts was a gentle soul and she had a hard time coping with her daughter-in-law who seemed to be always finding a way to put her down. Jessie Mae hated hearing her sing hymns and seeing her pout. It was obvious that she only settled for having Mrs. Watts at home because of the older woman’s pension cheque. Although Ludie would try to keep them at peace with each other, it was usually to Mrs. Watts’ disadvantage because she was always the one swallowing her pride even if Jessie Mae started the argument.
One day, Mrs. Watts secretly kept her pension cheque and ran away. She tried to get on a bus to go to Bountiful and almost got caught by Ludie and Jessie May but she was able to escape them. While on the trip, she found companionship with Thelma until the young woman had to go on with her own trip. Mrs. Watts was not able to escape Ludie for long. When she was just 12 miles away from Bountiful, the sheriff was contacted by Ludie and his instructions were to detain Mrs. Watts so that he could take her back to Houston. However, her pleas of help softened the sheriff and he took her to her hometown.
Although it was already a dead town, Mrs. Watts felt more life running through her veins. When Ludie caught up with her, they were able to remember their past and it seemed that even the young man was also revitalized. When they were about to go home, he finally stood up to his wife by making Jessie Mae agree to get along with his mother. The story ends with Mrs. Watts returning to Houston.
What Mrs. Watts had been experiencing is no different from what is happening to most elderly people nowadays. Most elderly people are put into homes because they could not fit in the fast pace kind of lifestyle that their children have. What is worse is that many need their children for more than just financial support and this creates tension if money is scarce for the middle-aged child’s family.
It is easier to ignore the elderly than to give them the respect they usually deserve. Most of the time, middle-aged children are so busy with their own lives that they forget the needs of their parents. The elderly, on the other hand, can be pitiful because they have passed their time. They know how glorious it is to be young, strong and in the commanding position. It can be very humbling for the older generation to accept that they could no longer control their children’s lives nor even their own.
The middle-aged children, on the other hand, are very busy finding ways to make ends meet and sustain their own families. It is hard to keep attending to the needs of an old parent especially when they do not see eye to eye with the spouse (which is often the case).
There are very few families who can take care of their elderly because of many concerns. Older people need just as much attention as young children. They get sick often. They demand attention because they have little to do as compared when they were still the ones earning a living. They can also be cranky because they have gotten used to having their way when they were younger and it is very hard to have to follow the rules of their children.
It takes more than just a little effort to understand the elderly and for the elderly to understand their middle-aged children. The elderly are concerned about their pride and strength slipping away while the younger generation is too busy to attend to what their parents need.
The Trip to Bountiful has described this relationship well through its last scenes when Mrs. Watts was reflecting on the life in the town. She realized that life is just a cycle that goes on and on. Although sometimes, the end can be so disheartening, life has a way of creating something good from the bad and the cycle begins again.