A few years ago, Alec and his younger brother, Oliver, became inexplicably smitten with the 1996 movie "Mother." Albert Brooks plays a middle-aged, twice-divorced, blocked sci-fi writer who goes home to live with his self-sufficient, emotionally aloof mother (an exquisitely cast Debbie Reynolds) who has adamantly repurposed his room and has no desire to give it back. Over dozens of viewings, both boys howled at the friction caused by the generation gap between the Depression-era mom and the Spago-era son. On car trips, at friends' homes, they would rehash scenes and quote lines from the movie with glee. ("Look under the protective ice, dear.")
Of course, like all the best comedies, it's serious, too: Suppose a grown man could revisit his childhood, unearth the secrets to his mother's past and change the way they see each other? What I find so moving is that it shows how, in fact, a mother's job never is done. If I'm lucky enough to see the day when my sons are living independently, maybe with families of their own, I'll still be wondering how I can be a better mother and worrying about the things I overlooked back when they lived under my roof. Not that I'll ever repurpose their rooms. No way.
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Glass's latest novel is "And the Dark Sacred Night."