As I continue the numerous tasks necessary to get ISN’T IT ROMANTIC? into production, I can’t help but think often of my father. The one year anniversary of his death is near. He passed away last September 3. His health had been in decline for a number of years. He had poor circulation and had experienced several mini-strokes. His mind and his personality were radically different.
He was in and out of the hospital and nursing homes and as his condition worsened, required more and more care. We couldn’t afford to put him in a nursing home, so my mother, brother and myself took care of him. It was difficult and very unpleasant, but he was family. How could we not do it?
I was never close to my father growing up. I was in fact, the reason he married my mother and I think on a subconscious level, he resented me for it. My father was a charming man and a womanizer. The fact that he had a wife never slowed him down. He cheated on my mother constantly. I resented him for that.
We didn’t have a great relationship when I was growing up. When he wasn’t working, he spent most of his time in bars. I feared him when I was young, was angry at him when I got older. It wasn’t all bad. There were two things that brought us together. Like the characters portrayed by Billy Crystal, Bruno Kirby and Daniel Stern in CITY SLICKERS my father and I could always talk about sports. We also connected on movies.
Perhaps my greatest trait is my sense of humor. It is one of the main things that has kept me sane and helped me cope with my numerous issues. All I need is some time and distance and I can laugh at almost any pain that I experience. I inherited my humor from my father. I used to love watching him break up a group of people and he was a major influence in me becoming a stand up comic.
He also loved movies. Like I do now, he spent many hours watching films. He would always point out great classics to me. In his last years, he couldn’t remember what he had for breakfast, but his long term memory was sharp. My brother and I would quote movies to him and he always responded. We continued to watch movies with him and I think he appreciated it.
As an adult, I made my peace with him, thankfully long before his mind went. I forgave him. He lost both his parents at a young age and I think he feared showing his love for others lest he get hurt. He didn’t do it often, but there were times he told me loved me and was proud of me. His friends later told me that when I was doing stand up, he used to brag about how smart and talented I was. I cherish that to this day.
When he finally passed, I was prepared for it. At the end, he couldn’t feed himself, couldn’t stand up, could barely sit up, so it wasn’t unexpected. I got to say goodbye to him. My brother and I went to visit him in hospice. He was laying in a fetal position connected to a breathing machine only able to blink his eyes. I leaned close and spoke to him. I told him I forgave him and that I was proud to be his son. I meant it. He was Paul Sr and I am Paul Jr. I told him I would do something with our name.
I really regret that he will never see me succeed. He thought it was great that I was a comedian and he would have loved to see me make a movie. I am going to dedicate ISN’T IT ROMANTIC? to him. He loved comedies and I hope we make a movie he would have enjoyed. Thanks, Dad. It was a rough ride but you are a big part of who I am today.