A blessing! A daughter who forgives her father for his actions...

Alec Baldwin with his beautiful teenaged daughter, Ireland, at the Screen Actors Guild ceremony 1/25/09

I watched the SAG Awards last night while doing housework, the bane of all our existences. Ah, the exciting life of an ex-starlet wanna-be in her twilight years!

My husband and grandson were in another room, watching a crisp, bright DVD of "The Music Man," the 1962 Oscar winner starring Robert Preston, Shirley Jones, and Buddy Hackett. Great film, if you've never seen it. Little Winthrop is played by actor and director Ron Howard, who went on to even greater film fame!

This is always a great time of the year for me. I've been involved in TV, radio and film for 51 years. I've reviewed movies on the radio and in print since the early 1970s. My former husband wanted to be a film director, but a career crisis caused him to take another path -- with another wife -- into the world of psychological counseling. My "current" husband loves movies and is a retired software engineer.

Bravo for "Slumdog Millionaire" and the entire cast. It's a wonderful film with a lot of gumption -- and it COULD walk off with the Oscar for "Best Movie of 2008" -- without a "Doubt"! Or it could be "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" or "Frost/Nixon" or ?

One of the nicest moments came when Alec Baldwin appeared with his 13-year-old daughter, Ireland. Baldwin is divorced from actress Kim Basinger, and you may recall that there has been a bitter custody fight (are there any other kinds?) and Baldwin left angry words in a telephone message which the child managed to hear. A clear error, of course.

But estrangements are made of things like that between parent and child, particularly in divorced or stepfamily situations. Some family rifts get repaired, and others last a lifetime. That is so very sad.

I wrote about our family situation years ago, and got a lot of conversation going from others at the Democratic Underground. You can read about it here in an archived thread.

Here's the public apology to all of our five children: I am so sorry for any of my failings as a mother and stepmother. Life doesn't give you any "do-overs" and I have forgiven you for not being able to forgive me. Apart from being a wonderful grandmother to the five grandkids who know us, we do not wish to grieve about it any more.

One of the best books on this subject -- "Family Estrangements" -- is the work of a woman writer, a former lawyer and judge named Barbara LeBey. I had the pleasure of interviewing her a few years ago. She does a great job with this book, as well as her second book, "Remarried With Children." Barbara is a wonderful writer and perhaps someday we will meet.

PS: Oh, guess what! she's writing a NEW book about older single women falling in love with younger men. I had a brief four-month crush on one delightful man who was five years younger than me, and a different religion. But that's another story for another time.

January 26, 2009