It’s Not a Burden – the humour and heartache of caring for aging parents
It’s Not A Burden is an intimate, humorous and heartfelt journey into the stories of adult children navigating the challenges and joys of caring for their aging parents. The film highlights several LGBTQ families and their trials and tribulations of caregiving for an aging loved one.
They spent much of their lives taking care of us, now it’s our turn. Emmy-nominated filmmaker Michelle Boyaner (HBO’s Packed in a Trunk) shares her complex and devastatingly tender journey caring for her long-divorced aging parents– her mother Elaine, who abandoned the family and left then 19-year-old Michelle to help raise her five younger siblings and is now faced with dementia, and her father Morris, once a brilliant Aerospace Engineer and now a hoarder unable to navigate his own world.
A diverse mix of other families are woven in, each with their own unique challenges. You’ll meet Esther, an entertainer whose daughters bring love and laughter to her last act, and Mike, who helps his mother Florence while raising teenagers as s single father.
With humour and heart, the film explores not only the frustrations and fears, but also the transformative bonds that happen when familial roles are reversed. Is it a burden or a blessing? Maybe a little of both.
IT’S NOT A BURDEN is written, directed and produced by Emmy®-nominated filmmaker Michelle Boyaner (Packed in a Trunk: The Lost Art of Edith Lake Wilkinson). Barbara Green (A Finished Life: The Goodbye and No Regrets Tour) served as Cinematographer/Editor/Producer. Katie Ford (Miss Congeniality) and Wendy Zipes Hunter (Voices of Parkland) served as Producers. Original score composed by Joanna Katcher (Nice Manners) featuring songs by Danielle Ate The Sandwich. Executive Producers include Maxine Lapiduss, Aaron Lustig and Barb Held.
The film is distributed by Gravitas Ventures (North American), a Red Arrow Studios Company and will be released on VOD on June 1, 2021 on several platforms including iTunes, Vudu, Google Play, Vimeo and more.
For more information about the film visit www.itsnotaburden.com.
I can’t say it was the lowest of low points, but it was in my top 10. I had just dropped down to the floor and performed an awkward belly crawl underneath the door to the handicapped stall in a large, crowded public restroom to help rescue my then 77-year-old Mother Elaine from the toilet seat where she had insisted, just 10 minutes earlier, that she’d be able to get up from on her own.
Upon my arrival in the stall, I saw that my Mom was weeping. She had just been shrieking– something I heard a lot of growing up, but now she was weeping. Then I started weeping too. She didn’t want me to have to come and help get her off of the toilet and I definitely didn’t want to be there. Eventually we both stopped weeping, then started laughing, and finally got her off the seat, clothes re-arranged and back into the wheelchair, hurrying to get to the 11:30AM matinee showing of MAGIC MIKE XXL (her choice.)
When we finally exited the stall there was a woman, a few years older than me, standing near a sink watching us. She had tears in her eyes, and as we passed her, she put her hand on my shoulder and told me that her Mother had passed
away a few months prior, and she never thought she’d say it, but she missed moments like what she just overheard happening to my Mom and I. She told me that I was a good daughter and that I should cherish every moment I get to spend with my Mom.
A few weeks later, my partner Barbara & I were sitting with dear friends and instead of a lighthearted chat about the latest TV shows we were binge-watching, we found ourselves talking about what brand of adult diapers and dementia medications we were getting for our parents. We were all in the midst of caring (in one way or another) for our aging parents and felt stressed, il-equipped and were often laughing through the tears.
Every time the subject of caring for our parents came up, other friends, work associates or even strangers in line at the grocery store all added their “amen” to the chorus.
It started to feel like an epidemic. And so, the documentary, IT’S NOT A BURDEN: The Humor and Heartache of Raising Elderly Parents was born.
By the middle of 2015, we had outfitted our two vintage Volvos with a tiny action camera (which came to be known as the “Elaine Cam”) that we would turn on every time I had my Mom in the car on our way to Doctor’s appointments or other weekly outings, to help capture our conversations. Ours was a complicated relationship and I knew that if I could give others a glimpse into that, they might be able to find some value in it for themselves.
On the other hand, my relationship with my Dad had always been very good– we were extremely close, but his hoarding issue had concerned my siblings and I for well over a decade. When I once again raised the issue about the extreme clutter in his home in the context of this new film project, he surprisingly agreed to let us film with him and see where that would lead.
I knew that this shouldn’t be a film just about my story with my parents. I wanted to be able to show all the different ways this looked for other people too, so I began reaching out to find families that were willing to share their stories with us. Over the course of our four years of filming, we travelled to several states across the country and families generously welcomed us into their homes and hearts and shared what this journey looked like for them.
As a group, we bear witness to the universal challenges and remarkable rewards of this experience. These truths are the heart of this film and it’s an honor to be able to share them.
IT’S NOT A BURDEN
About the Author
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.