There was a tradition when we first opened the hotel that I started with our second executive housekeeper. It was inspired by sound business practice involving team building skills and the end shift line up where our GM would say goodbye to a cluster of us, by name, individually.... like when the Waltons would wish each other good night. It was called The Walton Family Dinner. And usually involved ordering Chinese food in.
I loved the Waltons. I always wanted a big brother like John Boy because I never knew what was going on in the world. I knew home life. I knew my responsibilities but I didn't understand much of anything outside of school and our small town. I had a great dad. He wasn't as present as John Walton since he had so much to do on his own without the help of a set of grandparents to help while my mother was sick. So I looked to the TV dads most like my own for the kind of guidance I needed. One of my favorites was John Walton.
He didn't understand John Boy, who as the oldest I felt quite akin to, but he still supported him. I remember the episode when John Boy got his approval and support. And a bunch of notebooks to start writing in. The quote is from that episode. John Boy got what every odd kid in the family needed. That isn't to say that there were no struggles between father and son when the needs of the family clashed with the needs of the muse. There were issues. But John Boy always had his support.
I had a hard time getting that support from my dad. Or anyone else in the family. Substitute art for writing and there you have it. A bunch of people who don't know anything about the art trade trying to make me fit into the things that they did know. It was an uphill battle. And I held onto this moment between John Sr. & Jr. for almost all of my life because I needed to know that I wasn't nuts. That you could do something completely different from your family if only you would apply yourself. If I was gonna do art I needed to do art. And I needed to try to be the best. That takes a lot of practice. And sometimes that practice takes precedence over anything else going on in the family.
In many respects my dad was a lot like Mr. Walton, it jus took him a little longer to understand my life direction than it took John. John Walton was a lot like my dad. He really only ever wanted what was best for his kids, even if he didn't know what that best should be.
And now they are both gone...
With Walton reruns and his appearance as Gibbs' dad on NCIS it is easier to bear up without my dad. The words that I need are there. The relationship is visible. It's funny.... before I saw any of this news on facebook I had woke from a terribly restless night wracked with the grief of those in my family who have gone before me. And I am living that restless grief again today.
I'm certainly going to be bleary eyed for Valentines with the boyfriend. I almost don't want to go because the grief is so profound. It really has felt like I have lost my dad all over again. In a way, more than any other day that I envy my boyfriend's relationship with his parents, I envy him the discipline of those parents who had them in bed before they could get attached to this TV family. He's never seen an episode. And doubtless.... will not be able to truly grasp the pain in my heart. But he will hug me nonetheless.
God help me when Leonard Nimoy goes.