Monday, September 28, 2015

For the Sake of Love

As always, The Legacy Film Festival on Aging gives great food for thought on the multi-faceted nature of aging. This past festival was certainly no exception! Of the many thoughtful offerings, the documentary Mimi and Dona was the most unforgettable. The story is about Mimi, a devoted mother and lifelong caregiver to her 64-year old daughter Dona who had been born with an intellectual disability. At 92, caregiving was becoming too exhausting for Mimi and she had to make difficult choices to protect both herself and Dona. Filled with both heart-warming and heartbreaking moments, there were many teary-eyed viewers in the audience (myself included) who were deeply moved by the unshakable mother-daughter bond.

I continued to think about this story for days afterward, and it brought back many different memories of my dad, including the period before his physical and cognitive decline. Deeply worried about his unmarried daughter, Dad would give me money whenever I visited. I refused the handouts most of the time, but would eventually give in due to his insistence. When I found out that my parents had financial struggles, I scolded Dad for being irresponsible in giving me money. As I recall the hurt look on his face, I now realize Dad wanted to protect me even though he needed protection himself. 

In seeing Mimi's willingness to sacrifice her own wellbeing to care for Dona, I have greater appreciation for my dad's deep, genuine love. This recognition has been a powerful experience, and perhaps the reason why my eyes were flooded with tears during the viewing. I'm grateful to director Sophie Sartain for sharing the beautiful, personal story of her family, which is a universal love story transcending cultural barriers. Kudos to the Legacy Film Festival on Aging for hosting yet another unique, socially relevant event!

NOTE: Mimi and Dona is scheduled to air on public television in November, please check for listings!

Left: Me and my dad on my wedding day. Right: Chatting with Sophie after the viewing. (Photo: Phu Trang)


  1. "Mimi and Dona" was one of the most moving documentaries I've seen. The part where Mimi is taking Dona to the institution was heartbreaking and one I will never forget. My husband has Alzheimer's Disease and we are facing many of the same problems other families face -- we want the best care for our loved ones, but with limited resources and facilities, our choices are narrow and often not great. Thanks to Sophie Sartain for sharing her story with us and focusing attention on this very difficult problem.

    1. Frankie and Beanie, thank you for sharing your comments. I agree with you about "Mimi and Dona" - it is one of the most moving, heartfelt stories. My father had vascular dementia and as his condition progressed, we had to make a painful decisions as well. I truly feel for what you are going through and wish you well. Please take care.