“Now is the winter of our discontent, made glorious summer….., and all the clouds that lour’d upon our house….., our bruised arms hung up for monuments.” William Shakespeare, from Richard III.
Robeck has recently been forced to retire. A research professor, he rejects mental inactivity and is motivated to complete his final experiments with mice looking to find the “generous” gene. But having lost lab privileges at the university, he has moved the experiment into his home. Annis is suffering from mental deterioration with occasional disruptive episodes. Although she loves her family, she has no mice. Sensing no future, she considers that it is better to leave the world with some modicum of control before the final moment.
As much as parents would like to love and treat their children equally, natural circumstance makes that impossible. Changes in parents’ ages and relationship, family life cycle, changing economic conditions, children’s personalities, and sibling relationships all operate to undermine the parents’ best intentions. Many of us who face the end game in our parents’ lives also realize that the parent’s expectations and trust in their children at that time does not always align with the parent’s favoritism. Which child is most likely to carry out the elder parent’s wishes, however grave or however in conflict with the child’s wishes? Which child is most likely to act in loco parentis and impose the child’s value system over the parent’s?
In addition to parent-child relationships, Winter looks at sibling associations. Roddy and Evan were always separated by age and dispositions, but as adults, their lives and values are radically different. As is the case with many, If they weren’t siblings, they would never establish contact. Their sister was long ago deceased, but her daughter, LD, was partly raised by Annis and Robeck, and is a surrogate child and sister to the brothers. Their relationships are the dynamics of real life.
Winter resonates because it is an every family story, told with compassion and understanding.