I have not driven a car in almost twenty years. No one would want me on the road. I would hold your life in my hands. This is way too much responsibility. It took me a long time to accept the fact that it was no longer safe for my visually impaired eyes to guide me. I went through all the stages of grieving the loss of a privilege I took for granted. Why can’t I drive to the grocery store at any given moment? Or go to the mall alone and just shop for nothing in particular? I could no longer spontaneously meet for lunch with the girls, see a movie alone, or take a long drive to nowhere. I was angry. I was sad. I wanted to lash out at everyone, but I couldn’t because I might need to ask them for a ride sometime. It was a difficult time. I felt “less than,” invisible, and “handicapped.” I remember the day we sold my beautiful red convertible. I cried, hugged my car goodbye, and asked the buyer repeatedly to take care of my “baby.”
I truly was envious of anyone not in my predicament. I look back at these moments and understand it was all about having a hair of control over my destiny. Somewhere along my path, I realized there are some things we just don’t have control over. Some things are out of our hands. And the sooner we accept that paradigm change, the better off we will be. It is far more important to save our emotional energy to help make this a better place to be for all genders, religions, and skin colors. Our society is still fraught with tensions concerning these issues. It seems like the problems from the past are not advancing as fast as they should. All of these colliding feelings are continually racing in my head whenever I notice the movie title, DRIVING MISS DAISY, listed on television. It is a simple but strong nudge from the universe to reinforce lessons learned and those still needing work to get it right. It is simply a matter of how a person “sees” their journey and those around them.
DRIVING MISS DAISY is no longer a popular film on anyone’s radar. It depicts a time in the South when race relations were boiling over with rage and fury. It shares a glimpse of anti-semitism and how easy it was to bomb a synagogue just because. The story covers 1958-1973. I guess times have not really changed all that much. We are merely more vocal about it all now. What a shame.
In its premiere year of 1989, DRIVING MISS DAISY was recognized with Oscars and prestigious awards. The film won Best Picture, Best Actress, (Jessica Tandy) Best Screenplay, and Best Makeup. Golden Globes were also given out generously for these, and to Morgan Freeman for Best Actor. Alfred Uhry was the recipient of a Pulitzer for his original book. Hans Zimmer won a Grammy for his iconic music using only a synthesizer, not a full orchestra. Once you hear that tune, it is impossible to forget.
Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman were brilliant together. Morgan portrayed Hoke, Miss Daisy’s newly acquired chauffeur. Their relationship pushes and pulls them to the center of what is right. They learn to trust implicitly and look out for each other. Their friendship spans over 25 years. Watching their masterful acting abilities look so real and effortless is glorious. Their pauses and silent beats speak volumes. A simple shrug registers tenfold. Their dialogues together are the essence of the film. Moments of fear, joy, humor, anger, disbelief, and confusion give this DMD its extraordinary strength in how to age “gracefully.”
Another aspect of DRIVING MISS DAISY was all the beautiful old cars used to denote the decades passing. Those vehicles took on a life of their own throughout the movie. The natural, subtle makeup changes were impeccable as well. Their ages ran a span of 70 to 96 years of age. It was utterly believable. And, of course, mention has to be made of Dan Aykroyd’s supporting role as Miss Daisy’s son, Boolie. This was one of his finest serious performances. Kudos.
Some will argue that DRIVING MISS DAISY did not go far enough in sharing those turbulent times. It has been said that Miss Daisy looked at the world with “white, privileged glasses.” I don’t agree. This was not the intention of the author. This classic film is a tribute to how friendships are formed and nurtured. It is a testament to what could be…if only. My heart soared when Miss Daisy took Hoke’s hand and whispered that he was her best friend. And in those quiet, still moments of Hoke feeding Miss Daisy her pie, tears were released that I had been holding back. Oh…if only.
DRIVING MISS DAISY is available to stream on TCM.