- Posted December 22, 2013 by
Vero Beach, Florida
This iReport is part of an assignment:
iReport at the movies
“Saving Mr. Banks” – Remembering My Dad
Just like Walt Disney and P.L. (Pamela) Travers, author of my beloved Mary Poppins books, I have always told stories. They swirl around in my head. I try to download them daily. Sometime I think my brain will pop!
The recent release of, “Saving Mr. Banks,” drew me in as a writer. On a deeper level, it made me think of how I had forgiven my father out of love and respect.
First a confession: I wanted to be Mary Poppins. As a child, I spent hours jumping off the deck of my Ohio home. I would hold my father’s golf umbrella high. Followed by a deep breath, above the quarry rocks, I would wait for a west wind to lift me. Each time I was filled with hope. I believed; that I could fly. Repeatedly I would try. My knees would become bloodied until my mother collected me for supper.
My father was a man of few emotions. He was about statistics and facts. However, my sweetest memories were of his nightly homecomings. He would hug me tight. His clothing always reeked of malleable iron. He was a plant manager who put his career first and his family second.
Prior to dinner my parents enjoyed their cocktails. I was too young to understand how my Father’s rough exterior was always softened during this time amongst my mother’s modern furnishings and shag carpeting.
He would often call me in after hearing about my sessions with his umbrella. A modern day curmudgeon – he knew no grey. In his world things were “black or white.” His advice was to follow the example of Wright Brothers. For me - there was nothing mystical about those men.
What I did not know then was that my Father was trying to teach me to imagine flight – through the achievable process of science.
The recent movie release, “Saving Mr. Banks,” illustrates the close bond between Pamela and her Dad. Despite his many faults, he inspires his daughter to dream, and to not be confined to the “golden handcuffs” of monetary restraints.
“Saving Mr. Banks,” tells another magical story of how Walt eventually got Pamela to “share” her Mary Poppins with the world. The process that spanned twenty years came about through an unexpected twist. It was not until Walt shared the ghosts of his past that he began to understand her reluctance.
Just like Walt and Pamela, I was reminded of one truth, the emotional ghosts of our past, often keep us from moving forward. It is a message that is timely as we begin a New Year. My Dad was a good man; however, he had misgivings that scared the hearts of my brothers and me.
During the two month process that Pamela and Walt’s team worked together – she was overwhelmed by the emotional ghosts of her past. I couldn’t help but thinking of my own experiences.
On November 1st I chaperoned my son, on a class field trip, to Kennedy Space Center. The highlight was the Atlantis exhibit. My child prodded me to stretch out next to him on the concrete floor. As the multi-media images swirled around us, we felt like we were flying through space. All I could think was, “My Dad would love this!”
As I walked down the concourse I thought of a conversation just a few days earlier. On October 27th I had finished my third 70.3 mile triathlon (referred to as a half-ironman). When I arrived home my husband told me my Dad had called several times. I confess…I dreaded calling him back. I tried to prepare myself for the avalanche of “Mid-western guilt.” Just finishing – was never good enough. I held my breath as I recounted my splits. After a long pause, he said, “I want to tell you something.” Highly annoyed, I braced myself for his anticipated diatribe. Instead he said five words I had never heard: “I am proud of you.”
In the days that followed, those words hung on my heart. As my son and I walked out of the Atlantis exhibit on that November 1st – I squeeze his hand tight. Just then, my cell phone rang. It was my husband. His words were full of sorrow: “I hate to tell you this…your Dad died this morning.”
I crumbled against a concrete curb. As I sobbed uncontrollably, I realized that gave me a gift - words of approval. He had set me free. The emotional scars from his shortcomings were erased. “Saving Mr. Banks” reminds us all that we are only limited by those things that we refuse to release. Forgiveness is a process. If you allow yourself to move on – you too will fly again.
Picture: The featured photo is from my family collection. That's me with my mother. My father is pictured with my brothers Richard and Frank (Daniel was not yet born).