Remembering My Father
My father passed away yesterday. It still feels strange typing or saying those words. Not that I had a particular great relationship with him. My teen years were not pretty. But I won’t dwell on those here (I’m sure you’ll see them on stage or screen some day). I’d rather focus on some of the fun, geeky childhood memories.
When I was a kid, going to the movies was a big deal. There was not a local movie theater for the longest of time (though when the Revere Showcase Cinema opened, he took me down to check out the opening night festivities, we even saw local entertainment reporter Joyce Kulhawik, which was my biggest celebrity spotting at the time), so going to a movie was a big event. I don’t know if it were he or my mom who chose family movies, but we all went to see “Superman” as well as “Star Wars.” And we even saw “Jaws 2” without even seeing the original “Jaws” (remember the days before cable TV and video).
Eventually, movie going became a father and son thing. Though it felt like I was the one who was dragging him to them. Though he liked “Superman” I remember having to ask him to see “Supeman II”. And I felt so guilty for making him sit through “Star Trek: The Motion Picture,” I did not ask him to take me to see “Wrath of Khan” (even though I remember hinting to him about it, asking if he could believe a sequel actually got better reviews than the original).
For an Italian guy, he never had any passion about movies. Though, my most memorable movie moment with my father was while we were watching “The Empire Strikes Back.” It’s at the end of the battle between Luke and Darth Vader and Vader announces (SPOILER ALERT!): “I am your father!” To which my father exclaimed: “Some father! He just cut his son’s hand off!”
My father did surprise me at one point when he took me and my cousins to see a movie called “Raiders of the Lost Ark” because some friends at work said it was like the 50s adventure serials. For one afternoon, my father was cool in a geeky sort of way.
Did the man ever encourage my writing? No. But once I accepted that this was a generational thing, I no longer sought his approval. Though, fast forward to the present, and my trip home two summers ago. Though my dad was already in a nursing home at that time, he was still a little more coherent. He was aware that they were doing one of my plays in New York City, and was obviously proud, because he told the entire nursing home staff about it.
Would dad have enjoyed GEEKS! THE MUSICAL? No. But he would had sat through it and wondered which character was based on him (this time, none of them were). He would have told all the cast and crew that he was my father, or rather that he created the guy who created the play. And of course, he’d point out (over everything else) that I had put his name in the program and dedicated the show to him and my mom.
And I’m very happy that my best work (to date) was dedicated to my father. And it always will be.