Friday, June 18, 2010

Father's Day - Kathleen O'Brien

Father’s Day is coming. At our house, that’s always cause for anxiety, because my husband won’t ever tell us what he’d like to do, or what presents he’s hoping to get. He insists that his happiness comes just from knowing we’re happy. But, particularly on that day, our happiness comes from making him happy…and so the whole silly situation can get pretty complicated!

This year, as the kids and I were going through our usual “what, oh what, would Daddy like?”, I started thinking how incredibly lucky we are to have a guy like that. I was young when I married him, and I have to be honest. I wasn’t evaluating what kind of father he’d make. I never once considered the gene pool, or inherited traits, or parenting skills, or anything even remotely practical. I was just thinking how I could hardly breathe whenever he came near, and how I could easily drown in those deep brown eyes.

Isn’t it wonderful when that primal chemistry and great father material come in the same package? This is a photo of our firstborn and her Daddy. Have you ever seen such bliss—on both ends? Makes me smile just to look at this one.

I guess it’s no accident that the heroes of my books are so often great fathers—whether it’s fathers of the heart, or fathers of the blood. I’ve written furious heroes who discover they have a “secret baby” the heroine hid from them years ago. I’ve written bewildered heroes who fall in love with a woman who is carrying another man’s child, horrified heroes whose girlfriends show up on their doorsteps to announce the unwelcome news. In my most recent Superromance, TEXAS TROUBLE, Logan Cathcart is a broken-hearted man who lost his four-year-old son and is desperately resisting falling for the owner of the ranch next door, a young widow with two troubled boys.

I love my “father” heroes, and I seem to return to that storyline, one way or another, again and again. Each of these wonderful men comes to fatherhood by a different path, but, when he arrives, he embraces the experience with joy and love and an unshakable commitment to the future.

My favorite fictional father—a difficult choice, as there are so many fabulous ones—is Atticus Finch from TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. He is so brave, so gentle and wise and steady in the storm. And of course it doesn’t hurt that, in the movie, he looks like Gregory Peck. I always tear up at that wonderful moment, when Rev. Sykes tells Scout, “Stand up…Your father is passing.”

How about you? Is there an awesome father in your life? Do you love the father hero? Who are some of your favorites?


Christina Hollis said...

I knew nothing about 'To Kill A Mockingbird' until my daughter read it for her English GCSE. She was hooked instantly, converted me and we got the Gregory Peck DVD. Wow. I get something in my eye at that point too, Kathleen! What a dad.
My own dad is a real life hero. He gave me a love of growing things and the countryside I shall never forget. I owe him such a debt of gratitude.
Here's wishing a happy Father's Day to dads everywhere!

Laney4 said...

Hi there, Kathleen! It's great to see you here (and there, LOL)!

I enjoyed your blog. Couldn't agree with you more. I didn't realize how great a dad my own husband would be either. I got married at 22 and he was almost 32. I had a list of why not to marry him, why marry him, why not be married, and why be married. I've gotta tell you that the reasons NOT to marry FAR outweighed the reasons TO get married. However, I soon realized that the quality of the yeses far outweighed the others and obviously said yes. We're celebrating our 29th in a couple of weeks and it's getting better all the time (now that the kids aren't toddlers any more)!

BTW, I still haven't bought his FDay present yet. I thought I had a good one but realized it would be a better anniversary gift instead. Shoot! And what he needs he has to buy himself! I COULD whimp out and tell him to go and buy it himself, but that's not my style. I'll brave the crowds tomorrow, pull my hair out a great deal, and hopefully find the ideal gift. I'm hoping my luck has stayed, as it usually takes us 2-3 weeks to find "the" car when we're looking, and earlier this month we found "the" car on our first afternoon of car shopping. What a relief that was, as I had gone eight months without a second car and felt I was getting closer to being accepted at the looney bin every day! Anyway, here's hopin' I find "the" FDay gift....

Nancy J. Parra said...

Hi Kathleen,

Love, love love that photo. So sweet and so much joy!!

I have to agree that Gregory Peck made a wonderful father in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. BUT~ I'm a bit partial to Nathan Fillion playing a single dad on Castle... ;)

Thanks for posting, Cheers~

Mary Anne Landers said...

Thank you for your post, Kathleen.

I fondly recall from my formative years some fathers on TV series. They include those played by Ozzie Nelson, "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet"; Lorne Greene, "Bonanza"; Buddy Ebsen, "The Beverly Hillbillies"; Fred MacMurray, "My Three Sons"; and Ward Bond, "Leave It To Beaver".

In the movies, the most touching serious depiction of a father-child relationship in a film I cherish is "The Emerald Forest" (1985). Powers Boothe played a father searching the Amazon rain forest for his lost son. A wonderful movie on so many levels.

My favorite comedy dad in the movies is Chevy Chase as the beleaguered Clark Griswold in "National Lampoon's Vacation" and its sequels. He's an Everyman, only funnier.

My nominee for most memorable warped father in the movies is Charles Laughton as the notorious real-life family tyrant Edward Moulton Barrett in the 1934 version of "The Barretts of Wimpole Street". He's part of the well-known true romance of poets Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning---in the role of the villain. He'd be a prime candidate for intensive psychiatric treatment nowadays. No such luck in early Victorian England!

Finally, my most memorable over-the-top bad dad in the movies has to be---who else?---Darth Vader in the "Star Wars" series. Imagine Luke and Leia's situation, being the offspring of the ultimate villain in the known universe. The Force had better be with them!

Kathleen O'Brien said...

Christina, you're so right. Our own fathers always came first, as the first role model for a hero. It's only because I'd already blogged about him here a while back that I didn't include him this time! How wonderful that you have such respect for yours. He sounds like a true hero.

I'm so glad you found "To Kill A Mockingbird." It enriches every life it touches, don't you think?

Thanks for sharing!

Kathleen O'Brien said...

Laney, what a fabulous story! I wasn't even smart enough to make a list of pros and cons. I was just a goner, practically from the moment we met. But I love that you ignored the numbers and went with your gut. Sounds as if you made an excellent decision!

Thanks so much for coming on and telling that great story. And may your luck hold, may the perfect gift jump right out at you!

Kathleen O'Brien said...

Oooh, Nancy, how could I have forgotten Castle? He is not only the perfect dad, but he's also the perfect son! Now I'm smiling all over again, because...well, wow. :)

Kathleen O'Brien said...

Mary Ann, your suggestions are wonderful. TV really does have terrific dads, and always has.

I haven't ever seen"The Emerald Forest," but it sounds wonderful, and I'll have to look it up asap.

And what fun to pick the worst dad, as well! I'm not sure I can top Darth Vader. He may be the epitome of horrible parenting! Thanks so much for joining in the game. As always, you have such terrific thoughts!

Anne McAllister said...

Great post, Kathleen. There have been lots of good dads in my life-- my own father and stepfather, my grandfathers, and my husband, especially. But today I am thinking how glad I am that our three sons have become such great dads to their own children. When I see them with their own sons and daughter, I am filled with gratitude that they are doing such a good job with their kids. Seeing the values passed on from generation to generation is heart-warming, indeed!

Kathleen O'Brien said...

Anne, how lovely to see you here. You must be very proud of your kids. I don't have any grandkids yet, but I can well imagine how gratifying it is to see the same values and traditions carried forward. Dads have so much power in their children's lives, don't they? My own has been gone for almost thirty years, and yet his love is a safety net that remains under me to this day. I hope you and the great men in your life have a wonderful Father's Day!

Mary said...

Wonderful blog. Interesting question. I met my husband when I was barely 20 years old and he was 9 years older than me. Everyone told me that we shouldn't be together for all sorts of reasons, but we raised a wonderful daughter who is 19 years old and we have stayed together all this they must have been wrong. I wouldn't trade him for anyone is the world and he was a great father...the kind that I wanted when I was a kid. I'm glad my daughter has him.

俊偉 said...

It is no use crying over spilt milk...................................................................

Kathleen O'Brien said...

Mary, that's a beautiful story. I really do believe that sometimes our hearts know best--better, even, than the people who love us and mean well by us. You and your daughter sound very lucky indeed! Happy Father's Day to the great guy in your life!

Kristin said...

Late to the party but I just had to say, when I first saw this blog title, I was thinking Atticus Finch! My other favorite fictional father is Jack Bristow from Alias, gotta love Victor Garber!