10 - Field of Dreams
My memory of Field of
Dreams is that it made my mother cry. As a child, I would walk into the
room and she’d be watching that “baseball film with the guy from Robin Hood”
and tears would be streaming down her face. I didn’t understand it. Neither did
my siblings. We’d just roll our eyes whenever she put it on, saying, “Great,
it’s the crying movie again.”
In the film, corn farmer Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) hears an ephemeral whisper telling him that “If you build it, he will come.” ‘It’ turns out to be a baseball field in the middle of his farm, and ‘he’ turns out to be Ray’s father, a baseball player long deceased. Ray’s relationship with his father had been strained when he was alive, and the field was a chance for redemption. The film closes on Ray throwing the ball with the ghost of his father. It’s a beautiful ending.
I understood my mom’s reaction to the film a little more in my teenage years, when I learned that her father had died when she was six. ‘Learned’ isn’t entirely accurate, as I had always known my grandfather had died before I was born. Rather, I understood death better (or as much as a teenager can). The film, especially the moment when Ray asks his dad to play catch, represented the longing she felt to know her father again, to spend just a few minutes with him. In some ways it was a picture of the promise of heaven, the hope all of us have to one day reconnect with loved ones who’ve moved on. It no longer seemed as silly that she cried every time she watched it.
I understood even more when I became a father in my mid-twenties. You quickly realize how important you are to your children. Their entire world revolves around mommy and you, in more ways than one. Not only are they dependent on you for food and shelter and protection, they also desperately want your time and your love. Nothing gives my children greater joy then spending time with me. Nothing. What kind of crater would I leave in their lives if I was gone? I’m not the most amazing father in the world. I know that. But to my kids,I am. I could understand what that crater must have felt like for my mom when one day her daddy was no longer there to hold her and say, “I love you.’
And perhaps I understood best why Field of Dreams made my mother cry when my own father passed away just a few years ago. Most of the time I don’t think about it, but there are moments when the desire to see him and talk to him is so sharp it takes my breath away. I wish he could see and hold his youngest granddaughter, whom he never met. I wish I could ask him how to be a Dad, because there are days when I really don’t have it figured out and there isn’t anyone to ask for advice. But most of all, I just wish I could hug him and have him hug me back with strong arms free from disease.
So mom, I understand why you cry every time you watch Field of Dreams. I cry every time now, too.
~ Evan Derrick