“The Greatest” is a multi-layered drama about the grieving process of a family who loses a teenage boy in a car accident, and the pregnant girl he leaves behind. For those who have seen it, the characters I most relate to are Ryan, the son who cannot remember his brother’s funeral because he was F’d up, and Allen, the dad, who couldn’t grieve because he had to be strong for the rest of the family. Two ways of dealing with the grief of loss, because I lost my father twice.
On a hot summer’s day in July of 1980, I returned from my route in the vending company I worked for only to have my supervisor call me aside and tell me my father had died. I didn’t go home from work that day, but stuck it out. One of my buddies told me months later how that hurt him; how he couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t want to go to my family to grieve.
I, like Ryan, only wanted to escape. The day of my father’s funeral, I came home and got high with my friend in the back yard.
Some fifteen years later my father died again. My father, this time, hadn’t given me my family name, but the LC is sign at the end of my name. My father, this time, didn’t die a week after a massive stroke left him half paralyzed and unable to speak; this time he died a slow and agonizing death. He could have died a quick death, but because I was so like Allen in The Greatest, I had to be strong, not deal with it, and the grieving process was long and drawn out.
I hope to share some personal reflections in the coming days about how I dealt with the loss of my father and my loss in the Legion. But for now, a happy Father's day to all dads. And for all of us, love your dads for all they have done for us.