Monday, August 18, 2008

A Site That Matters

It's great to read the work of fellow dads who are digging deep into the larger issues that revolve around fatherhood. Jeremy Biser, best known for his site, Discovering Dad, is one of those dudes. He's recently launched a new site as well that focuses on "Where it's cool to be a family man." Keep up the fire, Jeremy!

In Good Company

Tom Perrotta is one of my favorite authors as well the writer of one of the more intelligent depictions of an At-Home Dad in his book Little Children. So, it really made my day to read a write-up from that ruminates on the At-Home Dad phenomenon with quotes from Mr. Perotta and myself. Thank you, Melissa Massello, for some decent reporting on the topic.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Time Well Spent

Yesterday, I had the good fortune to film Ralph Benitez once again. Yesterday was my fourth filming day of Ralph and his family and there's something really special about being with them. Ralph and his clan are all about the love for family. You can feel it coming into his home in the Bronx. The care is tangible.

There is also a growing sense of sadness. Since I first met Ralph a couple of months ago, he has lost about thirty pounds. He is down to nearly a hundred pounds. I didn't mention this before, when I posted an interview sample previously, for concern about it overshadowing everything else that Ralph is, but he is in the last throes of Aids.

Ralph shared that his family is still in the denial phase of Kubler Ross' Five Stages of Death. I can understand why. Ralph is so much of their lives. Regardless of his illness he has been a moral and loving force to his family and I can't even fathom what they are going through in considering his absence.

"I don't expect to see the winter, Dana."

It's heartbreaking talking to Ralph at times and to see his wonderful wife, Vilma, cooking for him and his not having much of an appetite. To see his four-year-old granddaughter, who Ralph is primary father figure and knowing what's going to be missing in her life fairly soon.

And yet it's also a very special honor to be spending time with Ralph and his family. Yesterday, Ralph had his granddaughter read a book to him and the pride in his eyes, that she could read at her age, was deeply touching.

Yesterday, I only filmed for a little bit because Ralph wasn't feeling well at all. We just spent most of the time in his driveway, sitting and talking about the world and our childhoods and whatever else came up. Vilma came back from the market with some fish she intended to bake for supper and shared her frustration at seeing their neighbor's seven-year-old boy left unattended and neglected too much of the time. She wanted to do something about it - as they have done with so many other kids who they've encountered over the years.

"We may not have much money," Ralph says, "but we make up for it in the love we share for one another."

Ralph didn't need to explain this to me. It was evident the day I stepped into this family's life.

It was time well spent in the Bronx yesterday. I hope to return.

Memories of Water

Swimming with my nearly five-year-old son in the calm waters of the NJ shore was a real treat a few days ago. There's something special about splashing against the waves with your kid at the beach. It reminded me of swimming with my own dad so many years before.

Driving home, Charlie asked me to tell him about story about when I was a little boy - something that he asks fairly often. I told him about how my dad, a lawyer, once surprised me when I was in Third Grade, on a hot day in June, by yanking me out of school halfway through the day and taking my three-year-old sister and I to Nantasket Beach. He had brought a cooler of sandwiches, drinks and fruit for us to munch on while resting atop our beach blanket. We also brought an inner tube to float around in the cold, calm, salty water. It was a day I'll always remember.

My wife suggested I write about this to demonstrate how dads, even full time working ones, can go the extra mile to spend time with their kids. That's how my dad was and still is. He worked full time but I never really felt his absence because he was always doing things like that beach day. Family was never far from his mind. I'm blessed to have him as my dad and even more blessed to be swimming in the water with my own son.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Breaking The Silence With A Ringtone

I realize it's been a while since I last checked in. Chock it up to moving to the burbs while battling a nasty case of strep, a kitchen that doesn't work yet and two young children running rampant among the heaps of unpacked boxes. Ahh, the burbs. It's nice not to have people walking over one's head (we came from an apt in Hoboken that had only sheet rock between floors) but a bit disconcerting to be tearing open boxes when searching for something simple like a band-aid.

We're now located in Ridgewood, NJ, so if you happen to be in the area (remotely or otherwise:) please give a shout.

I just got contacted again by Mike Nobel who wrote that hilarious song "Househusband Macho" that I had posted about before. It's now a downloadable ringtone that you can get here. For you SAHD's reading this, I think anyone at the playground near you would get a serious chuckle from your phone having this ring. Anyway, check it out. It's free!

Now that my brain is starting to de-thaw from the brain freeze caused by having all my drives, etc, packed away, it's time to start digging back into the project. There's so much to do and film. The engines are revving once more.

Anyway, thanks for your patience, your interest and your love for all things dad. More updates soon...