Tuesday, October 9, 2007

"Hey Dad, you wanna have a catch?"

It gets me every time I hear it. The second to last line in Field of Dreams. The last five minutes make it my favorite movie. For those of you who have not seen it, you must. If you've seen it and have lost your father as I have, you know what I mean already.

If you are not familiar, I'll give a synopsis. Based on the book, Shoeless Joe, by W. P. Kinsella, (a case in which the movie is far superior to the book) it's the story of an Iowa farmer, played by Kevin Costner. It opens in a narrative in which Costner's character, Ray Kinsella, gives brief details of his life leading up to the events of the movie which include the severed relationship between he and his father prior to his death. Living a most ordinary life, Ray hears a voice; the first of a series of three messages-"If you build it, he will come." He concludes that if he plows under a major portion of his corn crop and builds a baseball field in its place, former and deceased baseball player, Shoeless Joe Jackson, will come back to play ball. Throughout the film, the story of his falling out with his father gets further explained and supported with details. Eventually, Shoeless Joe, and other ballplayers from the past return to play on the field Ray builds.

The final five minutes of the film is where I always lose it. It was on TV last night. I usually never watch movies on television because I hate the commercial breaks, but I watched last night on AMC because at the base of the screen was displayed background information regarding the film. At the opening of the film, the notes stated that it's the only film guaranteed to make a grown man cry. I'm no exception. The film concludes with the revelation that the "he" in "If you build it, he will come" was not Shoeless Joe. As the ballplayers clear the field for the day, one player remains. Seen in the distance is the catcher removing and storing his gear. As he removes his mask, Ray gasps at what he sees: the catcher is his father, much younger than he had ever known him. The catcher, Jon Kinsella, approaches his son. With so much that could have been said, very little is spoken. Small talk and a brief introduction to his wife and daughter are given. The viewer is left wondering if his father even knows he is speaking to his son. As his father turns to leave, son calls out to father such a simple line that speaks volumes, "Hey Dad, you wanna have a catch?"

Updated 4/23/08
I just found this video and had to come back and add it in

The ultimate second chance. A chance to mend. A chance to say all the things he wished he said before his father died. A chance to heal all the things that had tormented him all these years since. Another of the voices Ray heard in the story stated, "Ease his pain." We don't find out until the end that it was his own pain that was to be eased.

Not a day goes by that I don't think about my father. I'm fortunate to have had a very close relationship to him unlike the characters in the film. But it is not without regret. Although we spoke on the telephone quite often, I had avoided seeing my father for the last two months of his life. Intentionally. His mental state as a result of his failing health made it so difficult for me to be around him. Granted I was an immature 22 year old, but I wish I had been able to better serve him in his time of need. How wonderful a field of dreams in real life would be. Oh to see him again. To tell him how I've missed him. To introduce him to Julianne, and place his beautiful granddaughter, Lily, in his arms. To have a catch of our own.

Just a fantasy, right? That's where the good news begins. According to scripture, we have the promise of seeing each other again some day. Knowing my father died a believer in Christ settles my spirit greatly.

Pictures from the actual Field of Dreams
While visiting Julianne's aunt and uncle in Iowa in 2003, we drove to Dyersville to see the actual Field of Dreams movie site. Although we found out when we arrived that they were closed, we got some pictures of the field and the house.


Mel said...

Great photos! I watched the movie and thought it was very moving...but I didn't cry...maybe 'cause I'm not a guy :D

I liked what you wrote about your father...it reminded me of my Nana. During the last few months of her life she deteriorated quickly, having a series of small undetected heart attacks followed by a major one that took her life. We were always very close, however in the last few months (probably when she needed me most) I was not there for her much...I told myself it was because I was busy...but really it was because she was uncharacteristically cranky and I couldn't deal with that at the time. I still have times when I think about this time with regret...but you are right...it does help to know that I will see her again on the other side of eternity...and that thought eases my regrets :)

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Hi bro,
I'm always glad to read what you write about dad, even though it is still painful, even today after all these years. I'm glad you wrote about your regrets. You spoke of them to me before, but that was right after he passed. I've often wondered if you held onto that regret. To read it today tells me that you are able, or beginning to let it go and "ease your pain." And the lesson we can learn from that time is that is never too late to be here NOW for those who are still with us, to complete our relationships as best we can with each other while we are still blessed to have each other in our lives.
your sis

Anonymous said...

I had no relationship with my father. Even though he played minor league baseball and I was a pretty good player through high school, I never "had a catch" with him. I found your blog while looking for that scene from Field of Dreams. I was hoping to post a link to it on my group "Between the Lines: A Father, A Son, and America's Pastime" at http://www.facebook.com/joe.shrode?ref=profile#/group.php?gid=123715173664
There are links to samples of my stories from a manuscript of the same name which has just received literary representation. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Joe said...

Didn't intend to comment "anonymous."
Joe Shrode
Newburgh, Indiana