Thursday, March 15, 2012

Beware the Ides of March

Today's our dad's birthday, he would have been 92. He always laughed that his birthday was on the "Ides of March" which did not bode well for Caesar. "Pa" as I called him with reference to Johnny Crawford who played the son on the western series "The Rifleman".

There were many references to movies and TV shows, I insisted that my brother was named David after the TV version of Davy Crockett from the 1950's. Several years ago we actually went to Fess Parker's winery around Paso Robles, Parker played Davy Crockett.

Our dad was a garage mechanic who loved working on cars and the car in the photo was from the Roswell movie I did for Paramount in 1998. Ironically it was also the time he discovered that he had lung cancer and the fact that I was actually on the film, shooting in Manitoba, was amazingly coincidental.

I hadn't been back to Manitoba for years and to actually be in Winnipeg when my dad arrived for tests was unexpected, sad and yet, we had a great time while he was there. He always flirted the girls and a few decided to look after him for me, a treat he thoroughly enjoyed.

It was also the one time he had a chance to say something about me.

Being a writer is often hard to convey to "normal people", the ones who work at jobs you can understand; there are farmers, gardeners, bank employees, insurance salesmen and hundreds more.

And they're pretty easy to explain. Everyone knows what a mechanic does. 

But when it comes to writers; especially in our lower-middle class life, it was more difficult, in fact it was treated with suspicion; in other words not having a "real job". I was treated more like "the guy who doesn't have a real job". Same goes for my brother Dave who is a desk editor in Calgary.

It's hard to tell a farmer what we do exactly; and again, in our world very few Ukrainians became doctors and lawyers and politicians. Ours was the first generation that actually finished school and most importantly, didn't have to work to help the family.

Our dad never really commented much on that, nor my mom, they were happy that we were doing something we loved, even if they didn't quite understand it. Our dad was also very internal, he never discussed matters of the heart.

Instead he would fix our consistently broken cars. That was how he showed he cared about us. And ultimately it meant the same as saying it. If we needed help, it was always there.

So it came as a surprise one day on the Roswell film set that one of the pretty PA's approached me and said that my dad was really proud of me, in his words, "that's my son who wrote this movie."

 I said that was impossible, he might think it, but he'd never say it. But she heard it. He never mentioned it to me, and he never would, because he wasn't that kind of person.  But through out the years I heard that he often talked about "his boys" and that they were as good at what they did as he was at what he did. And I didn't need more.

He lived for 2 more years and continued playing in his own "Ukrainian/bluegrass" band which he loved as much as anything and winning violin contests both in Canada and the U.S.