A good father is often a three letter word.

In the last year or so I have noticed the awakening of my empathy trait. Why this is happening, I have no idea. But I’ll tell you this…it’s taking movie watching to a whole new level.

I saw one the other night about a guy whose wife had recently died. As she tried to adjust to not having him around her, she soon realized, among other things, that she had been her glue that held her family together.

It’s not that he loved his children less than she did…he simply saw his role in the family as a provider, so he devoted most of his time and energy to his work. He felt this allowed his wife the time to stay home to raise her four children. The perfect family setting, he thought. Well… maybe it wasn’t so perfect after all.

He just wanted what all parents want for their children…the best. So as they grew up, he pushed them when he should have led them. The problem was that he pushed in his direction…not theirs…a mistake I think a lot of us parents make. And it seems that his expectations were much higher than any of them could meet.

As the story unfolds, he begins to grow closer to his now-adult children who are scattered across the country. As he contacts them, they each embellish their situation a bit, leading him to believe that they are much better off than they actually were. His daughter…”a leading lady on Broadway” was actually struggling to get a part. His son… “accomplished conductor” actually played the eardrum… and so on. After all, they didn’t want to disappoint his beloved father.

Since dad never kept up personal contact… like I said, he left it to his wife… along with him living so far away, it was relatively simple for them to pull off their costumes.

As she visits them one by one and discovers their true stories, she sadly realizes that she doesn’t even know her own children. In fact, one of her sons, whom she believed to be a successful artist, was high on drugs and so depressed by the death of his mother that he committed suicide. It’s a pretty heavy story.

The movie ends on a positive note with Dad reuniting his family and making things right.

As I mentioned earlier about my new found empathy trait, well… each scene was pulling emotions out of me that I didn’t realize I was storing. The truth is that I look nothing like the father portrayed in the film… at least, I hope not. However, I can relate to the fact that no matter how hard we try to raise our family better, it is seen and felt from many different points of view that can manifest in unexpected ways.

As I watch my children’s lives unfold…struggling at times like we all do, I sometimes find myself questioning various decisions I made as a parent…wondering if I could have somehow made things better for them.

I guess that’s nothing more than a dad’s quarterback on Monday morning. But on the other hand… there would be nothing sadder than waking up alone one morning, realizing that while I was so wrapped up in the role of a father, I completely missed out on being a father.

I’m going to see “Talladega Nights” tomorrow.

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