ADHD – It’s a wonderful life

As I often do during the holidays, I saw one of my all-time favorite actors in one of my all-time favorite movies and that’s Jimmy Stewart in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Co-starring Donna Reed and made in the 1940s, the film was not critically acclaimed at the time, but over the years it has become a stable of the Christmas season. If you haven’t seen it, you should, and if you have, then everyone knows it revolves around a small-town businessman, George Bailey, of Bedford Falls, New York, who, as he grows up, has all these dreams of doing wonderful things with your life, and hopes of traveling to all the farthest points of the world. His plans are constantly interrupted by world events and family circumstances, including the death of his father, the Great Depression, and World War II. Years earlier, George’s father and his uncle Billy had founded Baileys Brothers Building and Loan to help the less fortunate of Bedford Falls achieve the great American Dream of homeownership. His only alternative is high rent or exorbitant interest rates for the local scrooge, Mr. Potter. Uncle Billy is a classic type of ADHD. An Irishman, like me, who has apparently never been married, has a pet raven that he keeps with him and a pet squirrel at home. He is constantly worried and has low self-esteem.

George manages to provide for his family after marrying Mary, played by Donna Reed, and having a house full of children. He sees that many of his friends are successful in other areas and he gives up his hopes of traveling and doing great things, as he is hopelessly attached to his father’s old building and lending business. George’s younger brother, Harry Bailey, has inadvertently benefited from George his entire life, from the time George saved him from icy death in a sledding accident on a winter lake, until Harry was able to go to college. when George’s father dies, forcing George to stay home. And finally, Harry goes off to World War II and George has to stay home, due to hearing loss in one ear due to his heroic effort to save his brother from the frozen lake years before. Harry goes on to earn the Congressional Medal of Honor.

On the day of Harry’s homecoming celebration, Uncle Billy has $8,000 of the building and the loans to deposit in the bank, and meets the notoriously tight-fisted Mr. Potter. Uncle Billy, in typical ADHD fashion, can’t pass up the opportunity to brag about his nephew Harry Bailey’s exploits and the newspaper headlines about his welcoming home celebration. Distracted Uncle Billy accidentally wraps the deposit money in the newspaper which he boastfully drops into Mr. Potter’s lap. When he goes to the bank teller to make the deposit, he notices the money is missing and, having no idea what happened to it, frantically tries to retrace his steps back to Building and Loan. Returning to Building and Loan, he panics trying to trash his office trying to figure out how to tell George what happened.

When George arrives at the office in high spirits due to the upcoming celebration, Uncle Billy tells him about the problem. George drags Uncle Billy all over town trying to retrace his steps. Uncle Billy naturally continues to slide quickly into guilt and blame, culminating at his house when George loses his temper and shakes his uncle, calling him a fool and shaking him, asking him if he knows this means scandal and bankruptcy. and jail George leaves a mess, leaving Uncle Billy sobbing with only his raven and his squirrel to comfort him. George comes home on Christmas Eve and starts taking it out on all the people he loves the most (does this sound familiar to any of you?-It does to me).

The premise of the entire movie started with God and a second class angel named Clarence talking to each other in the heavens about George. Clarence strives to get the wings from him and become a full-scale angel, but he has a task to complete in order to do so. His task is to help George out of this mess. George, by this time, has swallowed his pride and has even gone to Mr. Potter (who knowingly has the money that Uncle Billy had left on his lap) and asks for his help. George tells Potter that HE has misplaced the money, and Potter knows that is not the case. He responds by telling George that he will call the Sheriff and swear a warrant for his arrest for shame and embezzlement. In his effort to post collateral for a loan, George Potter says that he has $500 of equity in a whole life insurance policy. Potter tells him that he is worth more dead than alive. George leaves and starts drinking and gets drunk and gets into a fight at a local bar. After the fight, he leaves in his car and crashes into a tree in a heavy snowstorm. George arrives at the bridge across the river and thinks about Potter’s statement, and is thinking about committing suicide by jumping off the bridge when Clarence Angel, Second Class, arrives on the scene. Clarence jumps into the river and starts screaming for help, knowing that George will save him. George jumps in and saves Clarence, and they go to the nearby train station to dry off and warm up. Clarence tells George that he is an angel, to which George scoffs. As they discuss things, George says that everyone would be better off if he (George) had never been born. Clarence admonishes him for this, and George insists that it is the truth. Clarence seizes this as his opportunity and tells George that if he really means it, he can make George Bailey never born.

Clarence and George then begin a very enlightening journey around Bedford Falls, which is now known as “Potterville”, as George tries to find his family and friends. None of whom know him since he has never been born. They visit the bar where he and Clarence are kicked out. They go to the graveyard and discover Harry Bailey’s tombstone from when he drowned at age 9, because George wasn’t there to save him. George learns that all the men Harry had saved to win the Medal of Honor in World War II also died because Harry wasn’t alive to save them. He learns that his wife, Mary, is a spinster. Her children do not exist. His mother is forced to operate a boarding house to support herself, as George was not there to take over Building and Loan and support her. He learns that Uncle Billy has been in an insane asylum ever since George’s father died, and the board of directors voted for the Building and Loan to close. George suddenly realizes the impact he has had on other people’s lives. He runs back to the bridge, desperately seeking to get his life and his family back.

The city policeman comes over and asks George if he’s okay, and George realizes that he’s snapped back to reality. He runs home to find that all of his friends and family have come to his financial aid and he will not be prosecuted. In the piles of money, he finds a book autographed by Clarence, thanking George for helping him get the wings from him.

The moral of the story and the message of this newsletter is that we are all important and have made a difference in people’s lives. Even if some of us feel like we are Uncle Billy to our family, we are important and vital members of the lives of our families and friends. The world would be much less interesting and probably much poorer if any of us had never been born.

I wish you all a wonderful 2005.

Patrick Hurley
[email protected]

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