I’ve been a member of a lot of clubs in my life. In elementary school, I started a Disney Villains club where kids would essentially just run around the playground pretending to be Disney Villains. Pretty self-explanatory. There weren’t a lot of rules, red tape, or dues. It was a simpler time.
Then came Brownies, Girl Scouts, Show Choir (which was more of a class than a club and more of a cult than a class…), Albion College Players and now, SAG. I’m sure eventually I’ll join AARP and then death and then my days of joining clubs will be over. Unless Tupac and Audrey Hepburn ask me to join their book club in Heaven, in which case, YOU CAN COUNT ME IN, I’LL BRING THE CHIPS AND DIP, LET’S DO THIS.
One club that I’m not super psyched to be a member of is the DDC. It stands for Dead Dads Club. It may sound crass to say that but it is what it is. My friend, Mark, and I started calling it that when we realized we were both members and high-fived. It made our other friends supremely uncomfortable which, in turn, made Mark and I laugh, so it stuck. I didn’t start this club and it definitely won’t end with me, but I’ve been a card carrying member since 2004. And let’s be honest, it sucks. I’d rather be a member of about a million other clubs. Can I exchange this membership for a Cheese of the Month Club or something?
Some other members of the DDC:
As I see it, there are two ways I can handle a day like Father’s Day: get really sad, draw the shades in my room, listen to Eric Clapton, drink a lot of wine, and pity myself. OR! I can think about all of the good stuff in life; the happiness that came from being lucky enough to have had 15 years with my Dad, the fact that I have many other family members who stepped in as “dad” and how great they are and THEN I can drink a lot of wine. The wine part is non-negotiable. Happening either way.
It wouldn’t be a Hollis blog if I didn’t relate this all back to Harry Potter somehow. There’s a quote from The Prisoner of Azkaban that I always tend to go back to when I think about my Dad:
“You think the dead we love ever truly leave us? You think that we don’t recall them more clearly than ever in times of great trouble?”
And it’s true. My Dad really isn’t gone. I get to see him every day.
I see him in my brother, Eddie.
Whenever people that knew my Dad (a sportscaster) hear that Eddie works in sports they, without fail, say “Oh! Like father like son! He must have gotten that from Mark! Boys love sports!” etc. I won’t deny that that’s true. Eddie and my Dad shared a love of all sports. My Dad was the loudest guy at every baseball, soccer, and hockey game that Eddie played. And then (much to my chagrin) they would spend the entire car ride home talking about the game we JUST attended and who played how and where the team could play better and so and so and his injury and oh my god, I’m getting boredom flashbacks just thinking about it…ARE WE DONE!? CAN WE LISTEN TO ACE OF BASE IN PEACE NOW?!
I’m sure Eddie wouldn’t be as passionate about baseball or hockey as he is today if it wasn’t for my Dad. But that’s not the part of my Dad that I see in Eddie.
When I look at Eddie, I see my Dad’s compassion. I see a boy who was forced to become a man much sooner than most, and who shouldered that responsibility wonderfully. I see a big brother who took his little sister on all of the rides in Disney World and held her hand when she was scared. I see a big brother who, IN THE MIDDLE OF LOS ANGELES TRAFFIC, fixed his little sister’s pedal extensions when they fell off because she could “totally put them on herself”. I see a big brother who has encouraged his little sister to be strong and speak her mind no matter what. And to me, there’s no doubt where all of that came from. Pure Dad.
And, being honest, I see a lot of my dad in myself.
Superficially, I see it in my love for television, and movies and fictional characters. When I was a kid, we never had one of those absurd “the kids can only watch one half hour of educational television a week” rules. No way. Not with Mark Andrews around. We. Loved. TV.
Some of my happiest memories with my dad involve the two of us sitting in the basement watching I Love Lucy and Cheers reruns. It tickled him to no end that I loved the shows he loved. He loved that I could argue about why Rebecca will always be superior than Diane or which Darrin was better on Bewitched. I’ll never forget how excited he was to show me the Cheers series finale that he had recorded on VHS.
Or when we were waiting in line for the drive-thru ATM. It was probably 1998ish and we had just come from the library where I rented 3 books: two about Lucille Ball and Strider by Beverly Cleary. For the rest of my life, I will never forget how seriously my dad took the following conversation:
“Dad, it says Lucille Ball died in 1989.”
“Yeah, I remember that. A few months after you were born.”
“So I was born…and then she died.”
“Do you think maybe…” I paused because I knew how strange what I was about to say was. Even for an nine-year old. “Do you think when she died, I…you know…maybe like took over? I know she had red hair and I don’t, I don’t mean like that. I mean like one funny actress died and another was born.”
My Dad smiled and I couldn’t tell if I should feel stupid or not. Was he laughing at me? God, why did I say that?!
“Hol, I think you could be right. There is no doubt in my mind that you were put on this earth to make people laugh.”
When my Dad was a kid, he wanted to be a professional basketball player. You know, a typical profession for little person who would never grow to be taller than 4’8″. He had an elementary school teacher who realized that this dream may never come true for him, so, she instead encouraged him to become a sports journalist. She told him then he could get into all the games for free and he was SOLD.
He went to school for broadcasting and became a sportscaster. Not only did he do radio, but he also worked in television as a sports anchor. Now, this was all PD (Pre-Dinklage) when it wasn’t necessarily commonplace to see a little person being taken seriously on television, let alone conducting interviews with 6’9″ athletes. But he fought and persevered and according to him, he never truly worked a day in his life because he was doing what he loved.
When I look at myself, not only do I see my Dad’s love for television and pop culture, but I see my Dad’s spirit and sense of humor, and above all, his optimism. His belief that you can “be as big as you want to be”. He always called himself our “Number One Cheerleader”. No matter what we wanted to do, no matter how absurd our dreams, he wanted my brother and I to know that he supported us.
So, as I, a member of the DDC, sit here in my apartment in Los Angeles, where I’m trying to follow that dream of making people laugh, I can’t help but be happy on Father’s Day. Because man, I was lucky enough to have had one hell of a Father.
The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice versa, the bad things don’t always spoil the good things and make them unimportant. -Eleventh Doctor, Doctor Who