Films awaken bittersweet memories of late father

  • Follow Steven Uhles

My father died in 1997. For years, I was unable to think of my Dad without sorrow. I could focus only on the things that were missing, the conversations we could not have, the grandchildren he would never meet. Mourning was a long and painful process.

But lately, the memory of my father has been much brighter. I find him easier to talk about, and rather than obsessing over the negative, I find that I'm again capable of celebrating the positive, of recognizing and respecting the gifts he gave me. Perhaps it's because now I am a father myself, or perhaps there's truth in the adage that time heals all wounds.

One of the things I've enjoyed remembering most is the love of movies my father and I shared. It wouldn't be too much of a stretch to credit my dad with instilling in me the love of cinema that remains an important part of who I am.

And so, I offer my dad, who I am sure has a celestial subscription to The Augusta Chronicle , a belated Father's Day gift. Below are five films that my dad and I bonded over.

STAR WARS (1977): I've written before that seeing this film in the theater was a formative moment for me. What I might not have mentioned is that it was my dad who took me to see it. Sitting beside him in that dark theater charted the course for the life I would lead.

THE JERK (1979): This was the first R-rated movie I saw. My dad screened it in advance for suitability. Some might question the parenting wisdom of taking a 9-year-old boy to see this bawdy comedy, particularly when they learn he wanted to name the new family puppy after the dog in the film. But I remember feeling so proud, so adult, because my father saw in me some measure of maturity, at least enough maturity to appreciate the film's decidedly, and delightfully, adolescent humor.

ROCKY II (1979): My dad was always a sucker for matinee movie nights. Summer evenings often meant meeting him after work at a local multiplex and catching whatever was new.

I remember the Rocky sequel narrowly beating out Moonraker at the Northwest 4 in Houston on one such evening. Is it a great film? Not really. It was certainly entertaining, and it is a great memory.

HOOSIERS (1986): This was my dad's favorite movie. Part of it was his appreciation for good cinematic storytelling, part of it was his soft spot for sports movies, and part was his memories of the team the film is based on. More than 20 years after seeing it with my dad, I tear up just thinking about it, in part because it's the kind of movie it is and in part because my father loved it so.

FATHER OF THE BRIDE (1991): My dad brought this movie home from Blockbuster the summer my sister got married, and I believe that for the few short months before he died, it might have outranked Hoosiers . He identified with the Steve Martin character, seeing in him his own struggles with throwing a grand party for his baby girl and at the same time letting her go. One of my final memories of my dad is listening to him enthuse about the performance, laughing out loud, taking joy from the art of movie-making. It's a memory I cherish.

Happy Father's Day, Dad.

Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or steven.uhles@augustachronicle.com.


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