Fathers and Sons

All posts tagged Fathers and Sons

Ghosts: Watching Over

Published October 17, 2021 by biggayhorrorfan

My dad would have been 75 last week. In some sort of coincidental converging of significant dates, we are also inching towards the 20th anniversary of his passing. His death in 2002 was totally unexpected….there was no early term cancer or other major health issues – just one final popping of his heart, one warm, late summer afternoon . That endlessly surprising week, my sister and brother & I camped out in the living room of his house in the far stretches of Western New York, pouring through boxes of photos & family mementos, writing his obituary. I would wake in the morning on the floor of that well worn area, my body curved towards my sister’s on the couch, almost like a human cocoon. It was like I was trying to protect her, unconsciously in the night – to cradle her from any further, completely unexpected blows. My niece Gabby arrived later in the week, descending breathlessly upon the funeral home with her father & younger brother. There was no one my father and I adored more in the world…each of us fighting to spend as much time with her as possible on those all too rare get togethers between our far flung family members. That evening, I walked with her into the waiting area where we, quietly, looked at all the memorabilia pertaining to my dad’s life – his existence laid out on cork boards and carefully scattered photo albums. There, upon seeing a photo of herself and my father, my dear, dear niece’s chin began to quietly tremble. As her adorably plump cheeks quivered, one single, fat, perfectly formed tear eventually leaked from her left eye. “Grandpa is dead,” she gasped, “and – I – will – never – ever – see – him – again!”

And I, being the kind of uncle who sang her Husker Du songs as lullabies when she was a toddler and tried to engage her in feminist chants during my infrequent stints as a babysitter , said, “Oh no, you’ll see him again, honey! He’ll appear to you when you need him the most. Your great grandmother, dad’s mom, has shown up to talk to me…even on the day of her funeral. So, maybe you’ll even see grandpa this week. But even if you don’t, he’ll be watching over you, always.” Perhaps, thankfully, it didn’t register in her 5 year old mind that her agnostic, punk rock loving uncle was talking to her about ghosts as the dawn leaked away from the sky that twilight gloaming – but I was….& perhaps rightfully so. My niece has grown up to be strong and sure and independent- the product not only of her own fierce will & a strong familial hand… but perhaps also due to the presence of a man who loved her very much and who has been watching over her from some misty, far off plane.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Ghosts

Published December 26, 2017 by biggayhorrorfan

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Who am I to say? That might be my father, two tables over, staring out at me from behind that old man’s eyes, as I drink my iced coffee and try, unsuccessfully, to leaf through this mammoth brand new copy of Stephen King’s It.  I mean, we all have our ghosts…and as it is two weeks from Christmas, it would be in keeping with some kind of Dickensian sense of poetic justice, I suppose.

I just wish he wasn’t looking out at me…staring at me actually…with such directness…with so little warmth. There almost seems to be a sorrow there, a hurt. …and of course, ever analyzing, I could see how my father would think I had betrayed him, given the world a flawed impression. So, I sit here, guilt boiling, tears almost welling up in my eyes….and…

I think back to recent Facebook posts I’ve made to commemorate certain events – the anniversary of his death or his birthday. They’ve always been difficult for me to write, even though I’ve felt compelled to do them. I’ve never been able to compose simple, carefree posts about him. Our relationship was rocky at times and while I’ve tried balancing my ruminations with fairness, I’ve also tried to be honest. The wounds still run deep. But my dad was always someone who kept his council, his deepest thoughts and secrets were shadowed things…and I have made private things public, if even in a slightly masked way.

So, I begin to talk to my father in my head. I reassure him that I know he loves me. I tell him that I know he is looking out for me still. That I know, days ago, when I accidentally kicked the stuffed lion, that he gave me for a long ago birthday, out of my bed during the night, and it landed at the foot of my mattress in a protective pose, that he was watching out for me and that I felt comforted, protected. I tell him I love him and that I miss him, but that I also must tell the truth about the sad times, the frustrating times, the hurt.

…and this man continues to look me straight in the face, unmoved. …and still in his focused orbs, I see the exact replica of my father.  In reality, I know this stranger, who seems to be so wired to my presence, is probably not even aware of me. He is probably lost in some other place and time. He is probably not even there. Look…his female companion is crumbling his food up and feeding him, bite by bite. He accepts the nourishment, blankly, with no true sense of need or desire. But, I also (unreasonably, perhaps) believe this could make him the perfect vessel for my father. Would there be anything wrong with possessing someone who is totally unaware? Would there be any danger to someone’s soul then? I know I am actually not the one to seriously analyze these implications. I categorize myself as agnostic because I know that there is no way for me to truly guess at all the world’s mysteries. Who am I to say for sure that there is no god? Who am I to refuse to believe that a spirit could imbue the husk of some old soul… even momentarily?

I contemplate these things as I put on and zip up my hoodies and then throw on my coat. I ponder these mysteries even as I head to the garbage bins to throw away my plastic cup. And still he looks through me, unconvinced. And in turn, I keep looking back for some acknowledgment, some relief, as I walk away. I seek some understanding from him and there is none. And this could be because this really is just some poor lost man on his last wavelength of life. Or…this could be because it is two weeks before Christmas and, in some sense of Dickensian poetic justice, this really is the essence of my father pouring forth from this stranger’s intent gazes. He could be here to remind me to be very careful of what I reveal, to remind me that there are a million sides to every story and that he will never be appeased by any of my attempts at heart filled reasoning.

And who am I to say that this isn’t so? I know really nothing about god…about life…except that it is the holiday season and I could very well be seeing ghosts.
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The Unexpected Father – A Memoir Piece.

Published June 24, 2014 by biggayhorrorfan

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Me and my real dad.

This is probably my favorite photo of us. We’re in costume for (my first summer stock show) American Primitive.

There is an interesting, vaguely unsettling (to my childhood mind) stage dad story with this, as well. This was 1976 and for the 1.5/2 weeks of rehearsal, a young, very handsome blonde actor had been playing my father in the show. Suddenly, a day or so before we opened, the director (a darker, heavyset guy) took over the part. If I’m not mistaken, that was the plan all along – but I was never told.

Honestly, I don’t think I ever said a word to the first guy off-stage, being enamored and much too shy, but I had definitely bonded with him, theatrically, and didn’t like the change. I was bewildered yet exceedingly polite about the situation – but not happy.

As the show came to a close, the imposter stage dad became increasingly emotional before every performance – stating each night, loudly and dramatically, to me (& to all that were near) that “In two days…one day…tonight…I’m losing a son!!!”

I thought it was the strangest thing ever. I knew we were just acting!

Anyhow, all these years later, I do hope that my second fake dad eventually had plenty of kids who truly loved him – or, as the case may be (bachelor actor!!!), had plenty of fictional theatre children who adored him in all the ways that I certainly couldn’t!

But…

Next time, let a kid know, yo!!!!

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