Thicker Than Water

By Sherry Goldberg

Several years ago I told one of the students whom I was coaching that “a stitch in time saves nine”. She looked at me quizzically and asked “What does that mean?” I looked at the girl. She was one of the most brilliant young girls I had ever met. She had received a full ride scholarship to an Ivy League school. I am sure, that by now, she has made a glorious career for herself, but she did not know what that saying or old wives’ tale meant. It means that if you fix something when it is small, then it will not grow to gargantuan proportions before it is addressed. Some would call this saying a precursor to early detection.

That being said, there are many sayings and old wives’ tales that have spanned the decades and remained because, if not completely true, there is more than a grain of truth to the sayings.

Many years ago, I was told that “blood is thicker than water”. That meant that no matter what, your family related by blood, would always be there for you. Others may leave but the blood ties stay with you. Ok, keep in mind I am an only child. For sure I was destined to be alone. Then as the years passed my perspective changed. . . Blood is Thicker than water. . . but is that really such a good thing? Forget Lizzie Borden, Casey Anthony and Susan Smith. That is way too unpleasant.

But sometimes bloodlines can carry huge responsibilities and legacies, great and damaging, and weaknesses as well as strengths. Sometimes people think, if only they were the child of a successful actor or producer, then life would be so much easier and doors would open for them. That is not necessarily true.

The Barrymores are a colorful and talented family. But all of the pressures of show business weighed mightily on this family. Kudos to Drew for becoming a glorious, successful and triumphant actress. Her great grandparents, Maurice and Georgie were talented beyond compare but in the case of Maurice, beset by alcoholism.

The next generation of Barrymores, showcased the talents of the incomparable Lionel (was there ever a better character actor who could portray everyman), Ethel and John or Jack, as he was known to his friends. All three of these Barrymores triumphed in their chosen field but Jack suffered from alcoholism which ultimately crippled and killed him.

The following generation of Barrymores saw a different challenge. How do you compare, when in your heart, you feel that you can’t compare to your predecessors.

Beautiful Diana Barrymore, daughter of Jack, struggled greatly with feelings of inadequacy and she later became an alcoholic and died young. Perhaps she would have been better off the child of a less famous person. Because of her family name, people expected a great deal from her and she was never able to live up to their expectations. In another life, perhaps she would have chosen a different path. Who knows?

John Drew Barrymore, Drew’s father, was handsome and charismatic but the demons of alcoholism and feelings of inadequacy plagued him also. He also died young.

In The Road You Didn’t Take, by Stephen Sondheim, says it best. We make our choices but sometimes the accident of birth plays tricks upon our path.

So congratulations must be given to Drew Barrymore. She learned to conquer her demons at a young age and triumph in a very difficult profession and be a credit to her illustrious family. Drew reminds me of her Great Grandmother, Georgie. Like her grandmother, she’s beautiful and her grandmother’s spirit shines through her in all of her films.

Every life is given joys and challenges. Lamenting any part of life is a waste. If we ask ourselves “Could it be worse?” and we are able to answer, yes. Perhaps we should give thanks. Amen.