The other night I saw one about a guy whose wife had recently died. As he was trying to adjust to not having her around, he soon realized, among other things, she had been the glue that kept his family together.
It wasn’t that he loved his kids any less than she…he simply viewed his role in the family as the provider, thus spending most of his time and energy with his job. He felt this allowed his wife the time to stay home to nurture their four children. The perfect family scenario he thought. Well…maybe it wasn’t so perfect after all.
He only wanted what all fathers want for their kids…the very best. So as they were growing up, he pushed them when he should have been guiding. The problem was he pushed in his direction…not theirs…a mistake I believe many of us dads make. And it seems his expectations were much higher than any of them could ever deliver.
As the story unfolds, he begins reaching out to his now grown kids who are scattered all over the country. As he contacts them, they each embellish their situations a bit leading him to believe they are much better off than they really were. His daughter… “a leading actress on Broadway” was actually struggling just to get a role. His son…”conductor of an accomplished orchestra” in fact played the tympani….and so on. After all, they didn’t want to disappoint dear old dad.
With dad never keeping up with personal contact…as I said, he left that up to his wife…coupled with him living so far away, it was relatively simple for them to pull off their masquerades.
As he visits them one by one and finds out their real stories, he sadly realizes he doesn’t even know his own kids. In fact, one of his sons whom he thought was a successful artist, was strung out on drugs and so depressed with the passing of his mother, he commits suicide. It’s a pretty heavy story.
The movie finishes on an up note with dad reuniting his family and making things right.
As I mentioned earlier about my new found empathy trait, well…every scene was pulling emotions out of me I didn’t realize I was storing. The truth is, I’m nothing like the father portrayed in the movie…at least, I hope not. Nevertheless, I could relate to the fact that no matter how hard we try to best raise our family, it’s seen and felt from many different points of view which can manifest in unexpected ways.
As I watch my kids’ lives play out…struggling at times as we all do, I sometimes find myself second guessing various decisions I made as a father…wondering if somehow I could have made things better for them.
I suppose that’s nothing more than a father’s Monday morning quarterbacking. But on the other hand…there would be nothing sadder than waking up alone one morning, realizing that while being so wrapped up trying to be a good father, I totally missed out on being a dad.
Tomorrow I’m going to watch “Talladega Nights.”
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