Sunday, November 12, 2006

My Father

I was searching through my computer trying to find a picture of myself to add to my Blogger Profile that I actually liked. Its not as easy as you would think. I am not one of those actors who enjoys looking at pictures of himself...

"Hey guys, check out these pictures of me that I took!"

...or watching himself on film or videotape...

"I brought over a videotape for us to watch at your party...its me in The Greensboro Tri-County Area Playhouse production of A CHORUS LINE adapted as a children's show...I play Sheila!!!"

...or listening to recordings of me singing...

"I'll email you an mp3 of me singing MEADOWLARK - - its THE definitive version of the song...I repeat every verse three times to really drive home Stephen Schwartz's message!"

...but when I saw this picture in my laptop, I knew this had to be the picture of me for my blog profile...at least until I join the Hair Club for Men and can take a current picture that doesn't make me look like Daddy Warbucks, Yul Brenner or that woman from STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE...although Yul and ST:TMP girl are some sexy mofo's...

This is me and my father in the pool at the Maverick Motel in Daytona Beach, Florida sometime in the mid-70's.

I love this picture because...

A) I have hair...and its blonde!!!

B) This is probably the best smile of mine that has ever been captured on film. Of course, this was my first set of teeth...

C) I look thin in this picture....well...you can't see my ass...

D) Its a picture of me and my father. The best.

Years after this picture was taken, my father divorced my mother. My parents gave my younger brother, Jeff, and I the option of choosing who we wanted to live with. Jeff and I had been spending every other weekend with my father and he was trying to shove two weeks of being a loving parent into two days. So my 13 year old brain decided that I would try to split the time equally between my parents. The schedule was: two weeks living with my Dad, then two weeks living with my Mom. Repeat.

Living out of a suitcase got very old very fast and I soon chose to live full-time with my Dad and see my mother every other weekend. I didn't realize it then, but looking back I can see that this left my brother with no real choice but to live full-time with my mother. And because I was the one who made the decision to stay with Dad, I lived with the pain and guilt of believing that I was the one who split my family apart - - my Dad may have left my mom, but I was the one who divided our family completely.

A few years ago, I told my father that I felt this way and he calmly said to me, "Stephen, you saved my life. If it wasn't for you, I don't think I could have made it through those years after the divorce." I love him so much for saying that to me. Its incredible how two little sentences can release years of pain and hurt.

It happens so much now, its a TV cliche, but when I moved in full-time with my father, I became more his friend than his son. And I loved it. During those years when we lived together, just the two of us - - struggling with no money at all - - my father had one phrase that he repeated over and over again, "You and me against the world."

To all those jaded cynics thinking, "That's a damn Helen Reddy song!" or chuckling because my father's words were trite and cliched and too Hallmark for your taste, that's ok. My father and I believed that little phrase with all our hearts. And even though the picture above was taken years before my father became my friend, that phrase is the first thing to come into my mind when I look at it.

2 comments:

Alanda said...

what a lovely story about your relationship with your dad. thanks for sharing it. :)
xooxoxox

Stephen said...

Thanks, Alanda. As Captain Renault(Claude Rains) says to and about Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) in CASABLANCA, under my cynical shell, I'm at heart a sentimentalist. :)