Like Son – Short Film on Catholic Fatherhood
For all of my childhood, and far further into my teen years than I would have preferred, my bedtime was exactly 8p.m. And it wasn’t just a suggestion. It was the law – forsake all hope ye who break it.
I still remember the tricks my siblings and I would play in an effort to stay up late. The most nefarious was trying to talk over the chimes of our digital grandfather clock to make mom and dad forget the time. It actually worked more often than not, which makes me think maybe the rule wasn’t as strict as we thought…but that’s not the point.
The point is that I remember clearly our exact bedtime, and as a result, I remember vividly the times I was allowed to break it. Christmas Eve. New Years. The time the Pacers beat the Knicks to advance to the Finals.
But there’s one occasion that stands out in particular: the time my dad woke me up at 11p.m., slid my shoes on over my one-piece pajamas, buckled me in, and drove me to adoration.
I was only 8 or 9, so as you can imagine, it made a big impression. The chapel was entirely dim save for the monstrance at the front, illuminated by candles and a solitary light. I saw my dad genuflect, kneel before our Lord, pray, and read the bible. He even handed me his rosary so that I could join him.
The hour flew by in what felt like 10 or 15 minutes, probably because I fell asleep for most of it. But I still remember.
Knowing me, I was tired and cranky the next morning, which is likely why we didn’t go back that often. But my dad went back, and I knew it – I always wanted to know when we were going to go to adoration together again.
17 years later, that memory is still burned into my mind. I can’t recall many of the things my dad told me while I was growing up – we’ve spent thousands of hours conversing over the years, so it’s all kind of blurred into a general understanding of who he is, who I was, and who I’ve come to be. But I do remember that night.
Because of that, I firmly believe that the most powerful thing a father can do is show his children the importance of faith. Not just tell them, not just say the right things, but show them by how he chooses to live his life.
By waking me up 3 hours after my bedtime just to take me with him to his holy hour, my dad instilled in me an idea of just how important adoration is. And it’s something I’ve never forgotten.
p.s. Like Son was a blast to film. I got to work with my uncle Packy and his son, my cousin Declan. Declan was an absolute trooper, managing to stay happy and upbeat during the entire 12-hour day of production. When he would get bored or frustrated, Packy would bribe him with computer time, and he would perk right up. At the end of the day, I overheard him say “so I’ve earned like, a lot of computer time, right?” and Packy said “oh yeah, a lot.” Of course, he was most excited when he found out that he got to use shaving cream for the first time.
Declan was also an awesome improviser. The whistling at the kitchen table was his idea, as was the goofy hunched-over-the-lawnmower act. But my favorite parts of the spot are the parts that were natural, like Declan sneaking glances at his dad to figure out what he was supposed to be doing in each scene. A couple of these even made the final cut, and they really add to the authenticity of the piece.