About a week ago, I heard someone talking about the movie To Kill A Mockingbird, and I was immediately transported to my childhood and the day I saw it for the first time. I'm sure that everyone's reaction to the movie is strong - after all, it's a powerful story. In my opinion, it's the Great American Story.
However, I'd venture to say that my reaction is not typical. Although I treasure the messages about race and injustice, that's not the defining element of the film in my memory. You see, one of the primary reasons that the movie meant SO MUCH to me is that I was watching my dad on screen. Some of you have met my dad, but most of you haven't. If you want a visual, moral, and philosophical image of my dad, all you have to do is remember Atticus Finch.
I grew up subconsciously assuming that every child (or at least every daughter) associated her father with Atticus, but of course I now know that isn't the case. I realize NOW how amazingly fortunate I was to have a dad who was gentle and strong, brilliant and humble, but more than anything - fearless. Truthfully...I grew up thinking that "dads" were wonderful. It makes no logical sense but I thought that other males (who bore other relationship titles) were the bad ones, but you could always depend on your dad.
How could I have missed the fact that those other males were, in certain cases, dads - even if they weren't mine? I suppose it's because children have this strange ability to be completely self-absorbed. My own definition of who deserved the title "daddy" extended no further than my front porch. Other girls might have a father but the only "real" dad was my own.
I might have missed the obvious fact that my dad was one of many in the world, but I didn't miss the truth about his character. Even at 38 years of age, I'm able to look at him and - although I know he's not perfect - I still believe that the best way to describe him to someone who's never met him is to simply say: "Picture Atticus Finch."
I've been wanting to write this post for at least a week. In my ADHD world, that is an eternity. Each day, in my mind, I've been slowly building the story I've wanted to tell. That alone should be an indication of my sincerity! How often have you seen me exercise patience, prudence, and restraint when I write? (Really...it's not necessary to answer that question because I'm more self-aware than one might preliminarily assume.)
So....Dad, if you do read this...thank you. To my readers who haven't met my Daddy... you simply must trust me - Atticus lives and he's still Scout's inspiration, even after all these years.