Meadville Tribune

June 14, 2013

Father's Day raises hope for re-do with late daughter

By Gary DeSantis
Special to the Tribune

— A few years ago my eldest daughter brought home a copy of the movie “Field of Dreams.” I thought I was way too sophisticated to watch a movie I heard was over-the-top sentimental and one that required a serious suspension of belief. My daughter insisted knowing my penchant for sports movies and a plot line about the rapprochement of a father and son. By the end, we were both sobbing like 12-year-old girls.

The movie portrays the mistakes a son makes in his relationship with his father and how those mistakes become clearer when the father has gone on. It provides a conclusion where the son and his departed father are allowed to reunite and the son can say and do what he should have done before his father died. Incredible yes, and unfortunately, impossible. There is not a man alive who hasn’t had some regrets about what has transpired in his relationship with his dad. I know I did and would dearly love another try.

I was so enthralled with the movie I make my wife and kids watch it with me at the start of every baseball season. All the girls got tired of it and made every excuse in the world to avoid what they perceived to be my heavy-handed and obvious lesson in parental relationships.

But now as Father’s Day approaches, I am convinced there is another side of the coin — the mistakes a father makes with his children and how much I want to have a chance at doing or saying something differently.

Don’t get me wrong. My three daughters grew up as reasonably intelligent, kind and successful people. My oldest daughter worked in our business and did a very nice job in our purchasing and internal operations. My second daughter, also in our family business, is an incredible sales professional and clearly runs the business better than I ever did. My youngest daughter is soon to get a PhD in biochemistry from an Ivy League college and will do a post doctorate at another Ivy League school. All in all, maybe with no credit to me, things worked out.

I must confess, however, that there is one huge regret that eats at my soul. My oldest daughter moved to Boston and got a job with a company very similar to ours. She called one day and told me her firm had season tickets to the Boston Red Sox’s Fenway Park and that she could arrange for us to see a ballgame there.

Realize that in “Field of Dreams,” a pivotal scene takes place in Fenway. It is one of the hallowed halls of the great sport of baseball. For some reason, I never made the trip and never shared a potentially great experience with my daughter.

A few years later, she moved back to Meadville, worked in our business and we had many fantastic times together. We went to Toronto and had a great time with her mom. I had the best time of my life at her wedding. More importantly, we had the best and most interesting conversations possible. She challenged my beliefs and, I hope, I challenged hers. She explained things I never thought I could understand. We laughed and I came to appreciate her withering sense of humor.

Unfortunately, for me and many others, my beloved daughter died at 32 years old. There is no describing the overwhelming, oppressive pall of grief. It’s with me always and so is the tremendous self anger for not going to Fenway with my daughter.

Of course, the possibility in this life for a do-over just isn’t going to happen, is it? Maybe in another setting, though, my daughter and I will be in Fenway Park looking at the huge wall in left field, eating a great hot dog, drinking a cold beer, munching some peanuts and experiencing the enveloping soul warming ambiance of a ballgame. Perhaps, just perhaps, such Fields of Dreams exist ... at least that is my prayer.

Happy Father’s Day and thank you for letting me share.

DeSantis is a Meadville resident.