Wednesday, April 9, 2008

It's Just the Onions I'm Slicing

Following the lead of Zen Master Sagal, writing about what makes men--or at least him--feel deeply, here is my own, personal list of "stupid, juvenile, sentimental stuff that has, for whatever reason, pulled on my reedy, fraying heartstrings."

  • The last line of To Kill a Mockingbird, movie or book, as Atticus Finch waits by his son's bed: "And he was there when he waked up in the morning."

  • And, while we're there: "Stand up, Miss Jean Louise; your father's passing."

  • The sight of any Welsh Corgi, reminding me of the World's Best Dog: Lightning

  • Watching my sons lie on the floor on their stomachs, legs up in the air, drawing pictures

  • Indigo Girls: "The Wood Song"

  • Rowboats

  • The Auld Lang Syne ending of It's a Wonderful Life (as one of Peter's commenter's also mentioned)

  • The Playing-Catch-With-The-Ghost-of-Dad ending of Field of Dreams (also as one of Peter's commenter's mentioned)

  • The ending of Hannah and Her Sisters

  • The scene in Peggy Sue Got Married, an otherwise dreadful movie, where time-travelling, now-teenaged Kathleen Turner answers the phone and hears her grandmother's voice--a voice her adult-self hasn't heard in years

  • "Polish your shoes for the fat lady," from Franny and Zooey

  • Erik Satie's Gymnopedie

  • The French horn solo from Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony

  • and two scenes from Big: 1) Tom Hanks watching kids playing baseball, with a look on his face that says "what have I done?" and 2) the kid, dragging along in his grown-up clothes as he returns home to his mother.

We spend our childhood begging to grow up, and then spend our adulthood mourning our lost childhood. Not just the being-children part of it, but the family we once had around us, the safety and comfort and protection of that family, the not-having-to-have-answers-for-everything, the not-being-in-charge, the having-someone-to-turn-to...all of which, little by little, year by year, we lose.

But we can't play catch with our ghost-fathers. Because we are the fathers now. And every act of fatherhood reminds us of the fathers we've lost--not lost because they're dead, necessarily--just lost because we're not children anymore--and there's really no one we can turn to or cry to or lean on in quite the same way, ever again.

Ah, well...

But Lightning was the greatest dog ever.


Amanda said...

First, Jason is an idiot, next, your closing killed me. It's tragic the way awareness arrives too late.

denn d. said...

Yay for Lightning! I always have loved that picture, and included it in every Kaplan PD workshop I could!

I enjoyed that list. Gymnopedie #1 is still a tear-jerker for me, too, after all of these years.