Friday, September 5, 2014

700 Sundays

I can't say I have the best relationship with my father, or that my family and I and I are so close I can recall so many memories of great family gatherings. Sadly that's not that case in my life. However, I can't even imagine knowing that I only got spend 700 Sundays with my father. 700 Sundays, in all honestly that's not that much and for actor/comedian Billy Crystal that's exactly what he got, 700 Sundays with is dad before tragedy hit and everything changed.

I had heard about Billy Crystal's 700 Sundays, his one man show in passing, hearing it was about his family and the time he spent with his father, but I never really thought about it. I mean 700 seemed like a lot and it never occurred to me there was something there beyond the laughter that made the man who he was. It wasn't until I saw his show was nominated for an Emmy this year. It didn't win (should have in my opinion) and one night as I had gotten home from work, late once again I need something to do something to watch and since all the shows were reruns and I need a laugh I looked to see if I could find different.

I hadn't started looking for it. I was looking for Artifact the documentary on Thirty Seconds of Mars, but HBO didn't have that, but there it was sticking out at me and a light bulb just went off and before I new it I was sitting back and watching 700 Sundays. I didn't know what to expect. I didn't even know what it was about and I didn't expect the show to start in a house with Crystal narrating. But I figured it could only get better.

It didn't take long before it got better. Crystal came out on stage and I quickly understood why he was inside a home, it was the background of his show, the setting of his childhood, where he started his career and got his first laughs. The show really talks about how Crystal's family all those wacky relatives, his mom his dad and some great famous jazz artist shaped him. People like Billie Holiday who took little billy to his first movie. And Louis Armstrong who had Seder dinner with them and was asked by  his grandmother if he'd ever tried just hacking it up. All these people made him who he was.

But in the middle of all that greatness and there are some great moments in this show, moments that make you laugh so hard you cry and choke especially being Jewish I can relate to many of the situations and issues he dealt with because hey every Jewish family has a few nuts. But really at the heart of this who show is his father and there it was right there in front of me the real meaning of 700 Sundays. Billy Crystal lost his dad when he was 15 years old. He died of a heart attack while out with his mother bowling one night, after having an argument with Billy over of all things a girl. Something so trivial and yet so normal for a 15 year old to fight about with his parents. Yet because that fight and the words that came out of Crystals mouth to his dad would be the last he ever spoke to him they'd weigh heavy on him for a very long time. And it all made sense at that moment 700 Sundays, Billy Crystal only got 700 Sundays with his dad no more no less.

We don't count the times we spend with our parents. We don't even think about it. When we're younger we want nothing more to be with our parents. They are our hero's they can do no wrong and we worship the ground the walk on. The make us laugh, they fix out cuts and bruises and they are the only ones who understand out pain. They fight the monsters under the bed and in the closest and keep us safe. We never see them struggle or worry. We just see them as perfect. Then one day out of nowhere it's like a totally new person takes over. Our parents are no longer cool, they no longer understand what we are all about and they are keeping us from discovering the world. We don't see them as protecting us just smothering us and we resent them.

For many we never go through what Crystal did and we should be grateful. We might have divorced parents, or friends who have lost parents but we've never personally lost a parent and out rebellious teenage acts are laughed at and made up for as young adults when we once again find our parents not so bad. But at that moment in the show when Crystal is talking about losing his dad I realized he'd only gotten 700 Sundays with him. I've gotten more than that with my dad, they might not have been wonderful or even memorable but I got them and still have them and perhaps that's the point. Crystal was close with his family and his father was someone special a father who encouraged and helped his sons become who they wanted to be. I wish my father was like that. Someone who encouraged and supported me like that. But for Crystal in those 700 Sundays no matter how short they were they were filled with happy memories and lessons learned.

I guess that's what I took away from his show. Don't regret what you don't have. Embrace what you do and make the most out of life. You never know when something will happen to completely throw you off course. Crystal got 700 Sundays with his dad. Many of use will get many more. Even if it's just a simple phone call or lunch make an effort to be there be present and when you have kids be the rock they need and the support system to encourage them to go after their dreams.

I highly recommend 700 Sundays. It's a must see.