- 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"
- 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.
But Lightning was the greatest dog ever.