Remembering My Mother, Elinor Hager, 1939-2013

 

elinor-karpf-hager_1969-a
My mother, Elinor Hager, on the set of Adam at 6 A.M. in 1969, one of her earliest screenwriting credits

My mother, Elinor Hager, passed away on October 21, 2013. A screenwriter for nearly 30 years, she was my teacher in communication, creativity and critical thinking. She always told me how proud she was of my teaching career. Everything I am and aspire to be comes from her.

Proverbs 6:20 (NIV)

My son, keep your fathers command and do not forsake your mothers teaching.

I study under my Heavenly Father, working to uphold his commandments. And I studied under my mother, Elinor Hager. I will never forsake her teaching.

Life with Mom was an education, an eccentric, delightful state of constant learning. No subject was off limits. No person or situation was insulated from her outrageous humor. Mom consumed the raw material of the world around her, fueling the imagination that generated a livelihood for her family, an identify for herself, a legacy for all of us who remember her.

My mother’s teaching…

As her eldest child, I became her apprentice. Mom’s love of science fiction became mine as we watched first-run episodes of Star Trek. I acquired her taste in music when she excitedly returned from the record store in 1967 and sat us down hear to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Her respect for history and human events became clear when she woke me late one June night, led me to the television, and told me Bobby Kennedy had been shot. I needed to see. I needed to listen. I needed to learn. And I did, with Mom at my side.

My mother’s teaching…

As I sought my own voice as a writer and musician, I sought her counsel and approval. The critiques were pure if sometimes painful. Mom said that she cared for me too much to lie. The lessons and the love were just as pure.

The apprentice became a partner in screenwriting. It was the era of electric typewriters and stove-top popcorn. I contributed an action scene here, a plot twist there. Eventually I moved to the higher levels of character development, longterm story arcs and dialog.

My mother’s teaching…

To me, everything is a script. It is the framework Mom used to think, to write, to entertain, to achieve. It has been my guiding premise, the approach I take in everything I create today from a press release to a syllabus. I ask myself: Do we have authentic dialog? Will people believe in what I’m saying? Will they come back for more?

That’s why Mom’s passing is so hard. It constitutes lousy screenwriting by my standards–poorly structured, poorly timed, no dramatic farewell. But it’s not up to me. The Lord called my mother home is His good way and His good time. Fade out.

FADE IN:

AERIAL VIEW: HOLLYWOOD HILLS

Clouds part as we glide over the Hollywood Hills. PAN myriad houses clinging to the slopes until one small, perfect split-level home fills the screen.

POV: FRONT STEPS

The camera’s view ascends the stairway leading to the split-level. Someone is coming home.

INT. SPLIT-LEVEL HOME

JESUS CHRIST AND ELINOR HAGER

Jesus opens the front door and ushers Ellie inside.

TRACKING SHOT, HOME INTERIOR

The shag rug is deep. Captain Kirk issues commands from the console TV. A crowd murmurs and an orchestra tunes up before the Lonely Hearts Club Band begins its fanfare. 

RETURN TO JESUS AND ELINOR

Ellie gives her special, knowing laugh, reserved for the rare moments when someone has actually figured her out. Jesus leads her to the dining room table. 

CLOSER SHOT: TABLE

A Smith Corona thrums against the wooden tabletop. Eternal stocks of Jiffy-Pop popcorn and Eaton’s Corrasable Bond typing paper wait by the machine. Ellie takes her seat and launches into her next story. She looks back at the front door and smiles. 

JESUS AND SON AT FRONT DOOR

Jesus ushers in a newcomer, the son, just a boy in bangs and bellbottoms. Jesus steps away as the son runs toward his mother. 

                             SON

                    Mom, I didn’t get to say goodbye.

                             ELINOR

                    Say hello instead.

The son hugs his mother.

                             ELINOR

                    Get the door.

The son reopens the door for the children, grandchildren and loved ones coming to see Ellie, to hear the stories and learn the lessons, all per the script.

                                               FADE TO BLACK:

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About jasonkarpf

Public Relations. Marketing. Writing. Adjunct Instructor.
This entry was posted in Remembering My Mother, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Remembering My Mother, Elinor Hager, 1939-2013

  1. Bruce Johnston says:

    Beautiful, Jason!

    I lost my mom last year, and I often envision scenes like the one you describe in your post.

    I hope all is well with you, bro! Finishing up one MKT113 class and launching into the next one!

    Be well, my friend.

    Yours,

    Bruce Johnston

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