Sunday, June 1, 2014

"Mad Men" and little boys

I have rarely watched “Mad Men.” I do not have the time, and sometimes, the story set in the 60’s is sad for me.

I was born in 1961. When I was born, it was a simpler time. By the end of the decade, everything was different. The world was different.
Assassinations. Political upheavals. Vietnam. Czechoslovakia. I remember being scared about the world.

Personally, it was a difficult time also. My parents got divorced when I was 8. My dad moved from Twin Falls to Boise. Our last Christmas in our shattered family was December 25, 1969. We opened Christmas presents, and when we were finished, our dad drove way in that morning in his Buick station wagon.  

My world crumbled.

This morning, I happened to watch “Mad Men” and the episode when Don Draper and his wife told their kids they would be divorcing was awful to watch. It was also at Christmas time. Their little boy was about 8 years old, and he sobbed. He held his dad tightly. The scene dissolved with the dad and son crying softly together.   

When I watched that episode of “Mad Men” today, I thought about I good friend of mine who got divorced last year. His 9 year old son is moving out of state with his mom. It is devastating, and when I watched “Mad Men” today about divorcing parents, I ached for my friend and his son.

I often think about my dad that foggy Christmas morning. Driving to Boise and checking into the Thunderbird Hotel which is now the BSU College of Business building. That afternoon when he was unpacking his few belongings, what did he do?  I often think about mom also.

My parents were heart broken. They were broken. They were worried about their kids. They were trying to deal with their own personal demons and fears. There were no winners that Christmas.

Now that I am 53, I have years of experience. I wish I could talk to my parents. How did they cope really, trying to keep it together? They did the best that they could. But was it enough? Were they too selfish? Or, was it better that they got divorced? Our wonderful stepfather made a difference in our lives.

What is the legacy they left? Four boys they loved desperately. They were scarred until they died. So too, I was scared and scarred. Perhaps, I still am. What was the effect on my brothers? We are all driven to succeed. Who knows?

The scarring perhaps manifested in my driven nature. I had to get great grades. I had to get a great job. I had to be successful. I had to make a difference. Throughout my career, I have made a difference. I have plaques and I have a trophy wall. Is that enough?

Even now since my strokes, I still try to make a difference. Yesterday, I participated in the American Heart and Stroke Association “Heart Walk.” I am on the Board of the Association. A friend of mine who is also works at St. Al’s posted a Facebook photo about me saying I'm so inspired by this guy! No stroke could keep him down - he's a fighter!! Thanks Mark for all you do for our community, and for your help educating the public about the warning signs of stroke.”

That is so nice. But not really deserved. I do want to help spread the word about strokes. If my trophy wall, my awards, my success, and my “name” will help, I will continue trying to make a difference in the world.

However, I wonder if my 8 year old self on that dismal Christmas of 1969, explains who and why about me? That scared little boy in 1969 became the 53 year old man I have become.

I think of my friend and his son. I think of my dad in the Thunderbird Hotel. I think of my 8 year old self. I think about my 9 year old son a lot. What is my legacy to him?  Awards. Elections won. Plaques.  Whatever.  

Being a great dad is the honor that means the most to me.

I wonder a lot about life, damage, and wonderful possibilities.

 Just life I guess.

1 comment:

Daren Long said...

Great post today. You are a good man and a better father. Thank you for thinking of your friend on this day. I know it helps him to have great friends.