Denzel Washington has always been one of my favorite actors. Many of his films are on my favorites. His latest film “Fences” which he also directed, tells the story of the dreadful relationship a father has with his sons. I have not seen the movie yet, but I know enough about “Fences” to know it is difficult to watch due to portrayal of Washington’s character awful treatment of his family. He works and puts a roof over his family’s head and food on the table. That is where this father’s responsibilities end. He goes so far as to tell his children he doesn’t have to like them.
Watching and reading about “Fences” brought up memories of my relationship with my father, Linwood. I’ve never wondered if my father liked or loved me. I’ve known these things for my 52 years of life.
I am the sixth and youngest child born to my parents. Dad and mom were all of 26 years of age when I joined this already large family. My parents were not rich by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, they struggled finally but all the while I never noticed it. To this day I don’t know how there were so many wrapped gifts under the tree. Sure, Dad worked for Capitol Records for a few years and we buried in record albums, but somehow those things each of us put on our gift list were magically waiting for us.
My love for my father has very little to do with money. It has been about time. Somehow, while he worked several jobs and was stretched in fifty directions, when we were together I felt like the most important person in the world. Walks to the corner store for milk, going on runs together, body surfing on those rare occasions we had waves on the shores of Long Island Sound, or any other zany activity, we just spent those cherished moments together.
Once I was assigned to read a particular book for a class and I could not understand the story or the characters. The day before the test about this book was to take place, I expressed my anxiety I was suffering due to this dilemma.
Dad had an idea.
“I just watched the movie the other night,” he said. “It was on late and I couldn’t sleep.”
We climbed into the old station wagon, went to the corner store and got sodas for ourselves. We then drove around town and dad went over the details of the story. I asked my questions and for the next two hours I learned all I could about the book. The next day, feeling more confident, I earned a B on this test I would have would have failed had it not been for my father carving out time for me.
When my father served as an LDS bishop he was pulled in even more directions. Being a bishop is extremely difficult under any circumstances. When a tornado tore through out stake’s girl’s camp, things became ever more difficult. Our ward was small so when one of the girls was killed, another paralyzed and several others sustaining critical injuries, I watch my father age ten years in just three months. You see, he gave his time to these girls and their families.
I have often joked that when he passes, we’ll need to rent out the XL Center to accommodate the masses that will show up to pay respects. Hopefully, that won’t happen for a long time. This world needs more time with my father.