In June my dad will be turning 80. This past weekend, Memorial Day weekend, we celebrated his birthday early. With family spread throughout Washington, Oregon and California coordinating reunions is not always easy.
As I was sitting at the table and talking with some of the “Old Timer’s,” and realizing I was now one of them, we began reminiscing about days long gone. Day’s when we were all in better health and life was viewed as an adventure, not as another pulled muscle, the need for a cane, or the reason for weekly trips to the chiropractor.
I was sitting at a table with my aunt and cousin and they began to share stories about mom and dad and when we all lived in Bandon. As a writer hearing those stories sure got my writing juices going. Just that quick I began to remember a movie I had seen when I was a child in Bandon, and how that movie actor reminded me of dad.
It was 1966, and Bandon, at that time, was a poor logging community. Televisions in every home were not a standard staple, and if there was a TV usually it was an 18” black and white. We did not go to movies. Going to a movie theatre was viewed as an extravagance and we did not have money to waste on things like that. Yet, mom and dad had a family friend that did have a TV, a color TV and we went to their house once a week. Though I cannot remember what night that was. It was probably on Friday or Saturday night. We watched the movie of the week while mom and dad played cards and visited with their friends.
We had seen several movies. One week we watched the Disney cartoon “Peter Pan.” To this day I can still envision the brilliance of the colors of the movie on the large 32-inch TV screen!
The following week we watched a movie that featured Errol Flynn in it, “Captain Blood.” I was mesmerized. I had never seen a swashbuckler movie like that. The way he swung on that rope was enchanting. For days, after watching the movie, I dreamed about being rescued by Errol Flynn.
I grew to love his movies, a love I still share to this day.
A few days later I went with dad to the church we attended. The men of the church were building a new church and dad was helping with the building process. I sat on the ground and watched dad work. I was only 5 at the time. As I watched him move around on the scaffolding I could have swore he was Errol Flynn. He moved so effortlessly. Not once did he stumble on the planks or the scaffolding. It was if he was gliding from spot to spot.
Even though he did not have a rope or a mast he moved around on, I imagined that he did. I had quite the movie playing in my head that day.
When dad had completed the job he was performing he glided off the plank, reached down and swooped me up. I imagined I was Olivia de Havilland being rescued.
I would like to say that that day changed the course of my life forever, but it did not. Though it impacted me in a positive way, the real meaning of that day would not be felt for another 40 years or so. I would not understand that day or the importance my dad’s life had upon me until my time with Old Man.
Dad’s health is not good these days, yet when I watched him Sunday interact with everyone that was there, I realized that I still viewed him as the most handsome man I had ever met. I still saw him as Errol Flynn.
I would like to say that I always respected and honored my dad, but that would be a lie. There were many years where I blamed him for all my life failings, and all my life wounds. Thankfully those days are gone. Thankfully I can look at dad and say without reservation, “Thank you.” Thank you for giving me life and thank you for all you taught me.
I have a question.
If you were given an opportunity to pick a famous movie star that reminds you of your dad, whom would you pick and why? I picked Errol Flynn, why? Because my dad always seemed to know when to sweep in and rescue the heroin, and in my eyes he always made me feel like a heroin.
And in a way, he looked like Errol Flynn, don’t you agree?