What happened to Rebecca?

Rebecca started as a strong, talented woman. She wasn’t sure about having kids. She had a career. And she was in love with Jack, a man with a lot of baggage. She was ready to take on any challenge that came her way.

Jack and Rebecca formed a great team as parents. Sometimes Jack had insight, sometimes Rebecca did. Sometimes the two of them were beflummoxed by their the dynamics of their Big Three. Sometimes they figured out things together, and sometimes they needed help.

I like the television series This is Us because it shows the complexity of growing up, growing together, and moving on. I like that it shows the frustration of parenting, the rivalry of siblings, and how love binds members of a family together.

That said, this season Rebecca’s story-line took a weird turn. She seems to the ever-unsure, eager to please her children, and has become heartbreakenly easy to manipulate. And now she falls victim to Alzheimers.

Why? She’s too young. I’m too young, and I’m pretty sure she’s younger than me. I mean her kids are in their 30s. I really hoped that the doctor would find that Rebecca had a UTI, and her son’s anxiety was misplaced.

As we age, urinary tract infections manifest differently. We can appear to have dementia, when a simple round of antibiotics will return us to our old selves; able to find our keys, make decisions, and babysit again. The writers could have done the public a service. And Rebecca could have continued as the strong woman she is.

Instead, Rebecca questions her judgement at every turn. She realizes her time to savor life is drawing to a close. So she becomes eager to please each of her children, sometimes against her own judgement.

Come on, Rebecca, I expect more from you.

And as for the Big Four, in the words of a sage, “wake up and smell the coffee.” Your mom is a real person. Not just someone who took care of you as a child. Not someone who needs to relieve your adult insecurities. And certainly, not someone who you need to take care of like a child.

If you want to know what’s best for your mom, ask her. And really listen. And good Lord, cut her some slack. She was once a young adult with plenty of her own insecurities.

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