I gained a lot from my father, including my love of science fiction. My fondest memories are of sitting with him on the couch, watching Star Trek: The Next Generation. These were my best bonding moments with him.
One of my favorite science fiction movies to watch with dad was the original TRON. It wasn’t on often, but now and again it would make the Saturday night movie. I was fascinated by the concept of a brightly colored world inside a computer. It made me curious as to just how computers and other electronics worked.
I grew older, until I went to college and fell in love. As I was on my honeymoon, dad had a test that revealed his colon cancer.
Cancer. It brought me face to face with the mortality of my role model. My emotional rock. My sagest advisor. My father. No one ever wants to think that one of the people who has been there their entire life won’t be there anymore. Human nature resolved my dread the only way it knows how, denial.
Oh, I knew on an intellectual level the gravity of the situation. But as I kept on living, I kept operating on an emotional assumption that dad was somehow immortal. All evidence was to the contrary. Dad did defy odds. He was given an estimate of months, he lasted years. But dad was able to do less and less.
Dad got to not only attend the weddings of all three of his children, he danced at the receptions. Unless you’ve seen a cancer patient on a bad chemo day, you just do not know the full impact of that statement. Dad also met his first grandchild, the only one he would ever meet.
When the news from the San Diego Comic-Con had all of the comic, movie, and science fiction blogs abuzz with some test footage of lightcycles for an upcoming TRON sequel, I got excited. More and more news came. It was going to have original actors returning to original roles. It was going to take place 20-30 years after the events of the original. It was going to be a father/son story. Then the release date was announced. It was in December 2010, right around the Christmas celebration with my folks. Dad’s health waxed and waned. I took a small financial risk, I bought two tickets for TRON: Legacy to a theater near my parents via Fandango. I knew there was a chance dad’s health could prevent him from going.
Fortunately, dad’s health allowed him to attend. It was the first 3D movie he had seen since the days of red and blue lenses. It was the first time in a long time that he’d been to a theater. We had a blast. After the movie we were excitedly talking about all of the easter eggs we found from the original TRON hidden in the background of Legacy (with one of my brother-in-laws who had come along).
Dad wasn’t feeling well the next day, but he insisted on crawling around a hardwood floor on his hands and knees to play with my daughter. She was delighted. I honestly thought that there just might be one more Christmas left in him. There wasn’t. He passed away at the close of the following summer.
In Legacy, Kevin Flynn dies. His son, Sam Flynn, and Quorra have to move on without him. So, too, did I have to move on without dad. To this day, those last scenes always make me cry as I am doing while typing this. I keep on keeping on, living up to his example as best I can.
Now I am the father. If I retain only a portion of all he taught me, my children will still have a better man for a father than most children do. I struggle to provide financially, but they will never want for love.
Every time I watch an excellent science fiction movie or show, I hear of a great theoretical concept, or I see the science fiction we watched become reality (as with the announcement that NASA is working on a warp drive) I get moment of “I can’t wait to share this with dad!” followed by an “Oh, wait.”
My children now watch things with me, my daughter in particular. We watch old Adam West Batman reruns, Lynda Carter Wonder Woman, Classic Star Trek, the new Star Trek movies, and among other things, yes we watch the TRON movies.
And Daphne seems to remember the man holding her in old pictures.