The filmmaker's 87-year-old father shares reflections on life through panes of glass while facing the pain of losing his wife of 62 years. With 'cosmic perspective', he takes comfort in the rhythms of nature to cope with the unpredictable, non-linear qualities of grief.


Production dates: September 9, 2015-September 19, 2015

Running time: 6:21

Hardware & Software used: Canon 6D, Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects & DaVinci

Language: English

Subtitles available: English, Spanish & Italian

Shot entirely in: Wheaton, Illinois, USA

Formats available: HD file, Blu-Ray, DVD (.mov) (all others upon request)

DIRECTOR‘S NOTE: This film is a tribute to my mother, but I was also moved to make it to honor my father. While I knew my parents were great role models for me in life, I learned that they could also teach me about handling death. They spoke honestly about what they wanted in death all my life, but obviously, I didn’t dwell on those conversations as a kid. Like most children, I believed my folks were immortal. When my mom had a stroke with bleeding on the brain in September 2012, my father, my husband and I all honored her living will in which she clearly stated that she wanted no heroic measures taken to save her life in such a circumstance. She was also able to express her wishes verbally to doctors and nurses when she was admitted to the hospital where she would eventually sleep away in my father’s arms while holding my hand. My parents had dated for 6 years and were married for 62, so of course relatives and friends were all deeply moved by my mom’s passing and were worried over how my father would handle it. In informing everyone about her death, he said a most remarkable thing: “I am so happy for Helen that she was able to live and die exactly as she wanted.” He set out immediately to celebrate that and to honor her memory, not with tears or self-pity but with smiles and action. He set up several college scholarships in her name and arranged for a monument in brick at a veterans’ shelter, honoring her father, mother, sisters and brothers-in-law who had been active in the service and/or the Legion Auxiliary. My father’s selflessness and charity in the quick acceptance of death was some of the most evolved human behavior I’d ever witnessed in my life. Since the end of 2014, he’s been prolifically writing chapters for a future memoir and sending them to me for review and comment. “Through the Pane” is one of those chapters. Reading it gave me the first glimpse of his moments of loneliness and emotional pain over the loss of my mom. I was struck by his “cosmic perspective”: the raw yet graceful expression of emotion with a devoted focus to let light come through the windowpane to alleviate the pain in his heart. May we all be so enlightened in the dark hours.

Dawn Westlake, Ron de Cana Productions, Inc.