Sunday, June 19, 2011

In brightest day, in blackest night

In honor of Father’s day, I would like to dedicate this post to my dad, Deacon George Kozak.

Here we are: our little family of four in the mid-80's (now we have doubled in size)

One of my favorite pictures of my Dad and my sister (I couldn't figure out how keep the nose on so I had to hold it)
Dad's Birthday some years ago.  And yes, the cat's out of the bag, I was born a blond and retained my blond hair from 1984-1989

And more recently....

The entire family, plus Grandpa Kozak and minus little Isaiah
It probably goes without saying that I have a wonderful father.   Because of him I will never be a drug addict, you will never see me in an episode of “The Bad Girls Club” and/or “Girls Gone Wild,” and you will never spot me in a children’s beauty pageant.  I also owe him my creativity, my musicality, my wit and subsequent tolerance for teasing (which is helpful to Moses who teases me endlessly), my inability to keep secrets[1], and my incredible work ethic.  My father smiles at strangers, offers you his sandwich if somehow yours ended up with mayo on it when you specifically asked for none, and is probably the only member of the clergy that you will ever meet who quotes Mel Brooks movies in his homilies.
My father cultivated in all of his children a love of a particular kind of culture.  His culture: the Marx Brothers, the Three Stooges, movie serials from the 1930s and 40’s (ever heard of Spy Smasher?  What’s that?  You haven’t?  I’m not surprised, no one has), sci-fi/fantasy/adventure novels, Mystery Science Theater 3000, the Muppets, and of course, comic books.  

None of this struck any of us as especially unusual until we ventured from the Kozak household.  My sister and I face constant reminders of our idiosyncratic/unorthodox upbringing.  We come across people who have never even heard of the Marx Brothers, who don’t share the same outrage that they casted Jim Carey as Curly in the motion picture version of the Three Stooges.  I will never forget the absolute shock (and horror) I felt when I discovered that Moses didn’t know who Doc Savage was.  I remember staring at him in utter disbelief and in my stunned-state, launching into a bumbling interrogation that may well have been something out of a Woody Allen movie: what do you mean that you don’t know who Doc Savage is?  The man of bronze? Really? Really?  No, really? I just-I can’t-I-I-I.  You get the picture.  And that wasn’t the first time.  One Christmas, Moses heard me listening (and singing along) to Christmas music and wanted to know what it was.  I said that it was John Denver and the Muppets, from the John Denver and the Muppets Christmas Special.  If you have not heard of this, don’t feel bad.  As far as we can tell, it has never been released on VHS or DVD.  Our copy was taped off of T.V. in 1982 (the year my sister was born) and my father recently copied it over to DVD.  But it’s such a long standing Kozak Family tradition, and was something that during its time was popular enough to launch the John Denver’s variety show, that I just assumed everybody knew about it.  But clearly, this is not and was not the case.  Not every family watches this obscure 1980’s T.V. special every Christmas Eve after having all sung Christmas Carols together by candle light.  I’m not joking.  That’s what we actually do every Christmas Eve.

And I love it.  I love the fact that our father shared his interests with his children—that he fostered such an eclectic taste within each of us.  I love that we all like the same bizarre things that no one else knows about.  It's like we’re in this exclusive club (and us Kozaks secretly like exclusivity).

So a very happy father’s day to you, Dad.  Thanks for teaching us about comic books and the Three Stooges and for making us watch Jeremiah Johnson (even though I still think it’s boring).  Thanks for helping us to all become the unique (even slightly neurotic) individuals that we are today.  And thanks, above all, for being such a great Dad. I love you.

[1] Case in point: the first time my sister and I ever watched Star Wars, my Dad was so excited about the twist—that Darth Vadar is Luke Skywaker’s father and that Leia is Luke’s sister—that he couldn’t contain himself and told us after we had finished “A New Hope.”  But for those of you who are young enough to have seen the series from the beginning (meaning Episode One onward), the series itself pretty much ruins that surprise for you.

1 comment:

  1. Very heart felt and lovely Wendy, well said! I particularly enjoyed the title, which seems especially fitting as dad, Jeremiah, John and I went to go see the Green Lantern movie today (while I'm not going to say it was a great film, we all enjoyed it). Happy fathers day dad!