The movie moved me to tears as I imagine my family in the same situation- without me, their mother. Frank, De Niro's character, was a new widower and in the movie, he tried to reconnect with his four children who have gone on their own in different places. He took a road trip to New York, Chicago and Las Vegas with the intention of surprising his children with his visit. Instead, it was he who was surprised at the discovery of concealed truths about the lives of all his children.
There were universal truths about family life depicted in the movie. Like- why do children speak truthfully to their mothers but not to their fathers? And why do parents find it hard to let go of their children? Perhaps, Kahlil Gibran's admonition to parents in The Prophet can give some enlightenment to us parents. He said-
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.
When the time comes that the arrows have flown swiftly and afar, I wish that everybody's gonna be fine.