On a recent trip home, about a month before my father passed away, my mom brought out a few shoeboxes of old family photos. Most I had seen before, but there was one photograph of my dad that stood out to me. It looked more like a headshot than a candid pose as most of the other photos were. When I showed it to my mom she said that it was the photo dad sent to the Hollywood movie studios, to try to get into the movies.
I knew dad had a lifelong love for the cinema, having escaped war-torn Belfast as a child by becoming a fan of the silver screen. Among his favorite actors were Humphrey Bogart and Jack Nicholson. If I had a dollar for every time I remembered dad watching “Casablanca” I’d be a wealthy woman by now. I just watched “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” again, having seen it several times before. This time, I viewed the movie from a slightly different perspective, as there are some similarities that I noticed of the mental health facility depicted in the movie and the care center that my dad was placed in at the end of his life. There’s always the issue of medication and its use in controlling patients’ behaviors, the staff’s handling of patients, how patients get along with one another and the level of freedom provided to the patients. These facilities are filled with moments of humor and tragedy, just as depicted in the movie.
Anyways, my dad’s glamour shot is a keeper, even if he never landed a film role. He was lucky enough to have kept his pitch-black hair most of his life, and while typically shy, his personality shines through in this image. It’s always interesting to see one’s parents as they lived before they became mom or dad, to get a glimpse into their hopes, dreams and ambitions. In the end, I’m glad dad didn’t become a movie star, because then he may never have been my dad.