It’s been a sad roller coaster these past few weeks in Blerd Vision-ville.
As expected, it’s been a heart-wrenching time of grief for my family and me.
|My father and me at my wedding in October 2012|
He picked us up from school, did the lion’s share of cooking and house cleaning. No wonder I don’t believe in housework as “women’s work.”
My music and toy collections, my love of George Carlin, deification of John Coltrane and Miles Davis, and enjoyment of drawing and singing all have roots with my father.
He was the big kid with thousands of jazz and R&B albums, hardcore audiophile equipment, an assortment of electric trains, a love of The Day The Earth Stood Still, and the ability to draw Batman perfectly from a sticker.
I’d rather celebrate him, and sometimes I do, but I still mourn him. And that’s OK. This is the order of things.
Maybe they’ll help me.
Despite the years of being turned to farce, there is something primal and deeply emotional in the scene when, after James Evans is killed in a work accident, Florida breaks down and cries out, “Damn, damn, damn!” and collapses in her children’s arms.
James, the workaday father scrapping to keep his family afloat and children alive in a hostile environment and fighting daily indignity. It was John Amos, so powerful and defiant as Kunta Kinte in Roots.
He was a superman. He was indestructible. And then he was gone.
Even though Big Fish will sit among Tim Burton’s least-remembered films, I liked this fantasy of a dying father and his wounded journalist son enough when it came out. Amid all the goth tones in Burton’s work, there’s a deeply sentimental strain, and the end of this film leaves me bawling. Burton made this film within years of both his parents’ deaths, and the melancholy seeps into it.
My father, like Edward, continues to live as one big story.
My father was a big Superman fan. He was born five years after the Last Son of Krypton arrived in Action Comics No. 1, so Dad grew up in thrall to the 1940s and ‘50s fervor of the man who could leap tall buildings in a single bound.
Ever hear about kids who hurt themselves playing Superman by jumping off something with a towel around their necks? My father jumped off a one-story garage and broke his arm.
The past few years, I bought him more than a few Superman-themed Father’s Day cards. I gave him one this past June, with “to my unbreakable father” written inside.
I remember thinking as the film neared its end, images of a boyhood Clark running with a towel around his neck and Kent looking on, that I missed my father and he’s alive. This was shortly before my father’s back surgery to keep his spine from cutting off nerves in his legs. Before his recovery. Before he started losing weight and energy drastically, and the doctors found the cancer.
My father would have walked into a tornado for me. He almost punched out a nun who mistreated my brother in grade school. As a beat cop in 1970s ready-to-race-riot South Philadelphia, he marched a group of white guys down to the precinct in the summer heat after one of them called him a racial slur.
|Superman and sons, circa 1987|