Bounty Hunters Like Me and My Brother

This is my brother, John, talking to Dad about the meaning of life, checking his opinions out against the Buddha of our household, because what Dad says is important.

This is Dad listening. This is what he did best, listen to the questions without placing so much emphasis on the answers because he said the questions were what was important, they indicate where the asker's true interests lie. Dad listened without judging, without making you feel stupid for saying what you thought. He listened with his heart.

It is very hard to use the past tense when I am talking about my father. It makes him more dead, if that's possible. Which of course, it isn't.

He leaves huge shoes to be filled. I think all of us try, with the bits of Dad we do best, but my brother is the only male. I told him this made him the patriarch of the family now. He seemed uncomfortable about this, as if accepting the role made him a traitor, or like it is with me and the past tense, maybe stepping into Dad's role made John feel like Dad was more dead.

We are all changing. Shifting to accommodate the void in our circle. Trying to make a new balance for ourselves.

And then, just when I think I can't watch, hear or read one more thing about people losing their fathers...I see last night's bounty hunter show, the one that features this guy, Dog, and his wife, Beth a.k.a Baby.

Her father dies and in addition to chasing bad guys and lecturing them about their lives and second chances for redemption, old Dawg has to deal with losing his father-in-law and helping Baby through the loss.

Baby pats the box of ashes (and it was not a cardboard box either) that sits on top of a casket covered in flowers. She is sobbing. She points out a chocolate covered cherry atop the formal portrait of her dad and then a candy-filled funeral wreath sent by her father's buddies.

Now why couldn't we have had something like that at Dad's funeral? I mean, candy. It would've been the seventh inning stretch sandwiched between the cloying flowers. We could've broken open a pack of Skittles when the Hotrod Priest got too wordy or carried away with himself. It would've given us something to do with our mouths besides biting down on our lips and trying not to laugh hysterically when they dropkicked Dad into the ground.

Dog even cries because his grief gets triggered when his wife asks if he wants biscuits and gravy for breakfast, because this is what his father-in-law always made. He sits there, wiping his eyes, in his black leather vest, his bleached blonde hair hanging down around his shoulders, his wraparound black sunglasses perched like a headband on top of his head.

The camera follows this family everywhere. They force Little Baby, or whatever the daughter's name is, to come catch bad guys with them because this is their family identity. It's what they do. They even pray and say this day of catching bad asses is dedicated in their dearly departed's honor.

It's what gets them through. They tell the bad guy this when they catch him...In addition to telling him they're sorry his life is so awful and he's hooked on ice and has to go to jail. They're sorry BUT they're taking him to jail because maybe now he'll get sober. Maybe he'll take this second chance. They tell him it's what his father would want him to do...And then they talk about Baby's father a bit and how the bad ass can still turn straight while his father's alive.

I watch this like it's an oncoming train wreck.

Little Baby even says she likes catching bad guys now and her mother teases her about crying all the way to the scene.

I'm sitting there watching and realize this hokey show has a theme whether they know it or not. They are carrying on, showing how the next generation will try to fill the shoes of their dead hero.

I can't decide whether to laugh or feel touched by their genuine emotion. I am watching a carnival and seeing some real gold amongst the tacky glitz.

Today I am wearing a black leather jacket as I go forth into the world to fight insanity. I have had an epiphany...

Our lives are all reality T.V shows, only most of us forgot to put film in our camcorders.

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