Esme – a video project

Esme SliceEsme met her husband Harry shortly after the Second World War. She was working as ward sister in Cardiff Hospital when Harry came in after a minor accident. Although it was against the rules they started dating and soon fell in love. They married and had children and grandchildren. Eight years ago, after almost sixty years of together, Harry passed away leaving Esme alone. Esme struggles to remain mobile. Arthritis has seized her legs and is slowly crippling her hands. Her hearing is fading. She has limited sight in one eye and the other is blind.

Esme’s world is shrinking to within an arm’s reach of her chair. This film is not just about the life of one elderly woman. People are living longer and the gap between male and female mortality is growing – women are, on average, outliving men born the same year by more than six years. A ‘traditional’ couple of the previous century has an older man marry a younger women – this further widens the age gap and explains why there are so many more widows than widowers. Care homes are expensive and often have a poor reputation. Retirement used to mean a release from responsibility but now more pensioners finding themselves having to look after their elderly parents.

This video is not about an extraordinary story or remarkable individual. Men and women, just like Esme, approaching the final years of their lives are sitting behind the windows in thousands of family homes. This isn’t just a film about the present, it’s a film that could be about our own future.