I finished God of War over the weekend. I’m not going to discuss any of the meat of the plot so no worries about spoilers. Rather, I think I may have played a video game that spoke to me as a father?
If you’ve seen the trailers for the game, you know what I’m talking about. If not, well, the game is about a father and son going on a journey to fulfill the last wish of the respective wife and mother who left them suddenly.
After finishing the game, there was a lot of emotion to sift through, especially with a soon to be 8-year-old sitting right next to me marveling at the epic action and the production of the game. In the meantime, I was close to tears trying to unravel a lot of the things the character of Kratos was trying to unravel as a father.
Full disclosure: I had a funny childhood. My parents divorced while I was still a toddler. My mother moved back to New York from Lackland Airforce Base in San Antonio and my father picked up and went all the way to Korea. He’d build himself a new life out there and we’d see each other as many times as I have fingers in my lifetime.
But this isn’t about his absence. This is about the presence of two other men in my life – strangely enough, two men not so different than an aloof, emotionless albeit caring, monolith of a man that is the main character of God of War.
My uncle and my grandfather – both named Marcelo – were, to put it lightly, interesting men. They were obnoxious. They were drunks. They were philandering bastards. They were cheap. They were at times cruel. They were most definitely the first to fight when other, better options were on the table. They were argumentative and stubborn. They were proud beyond their means.
They were also two of the hardest working people I’ve ever known. They were rabid fans of Bruno Sammartino. They were obsessed with watching movies and showing what they loved to me and my cousins. They were observant enough to know when to fall back when everybody else left the room and ask you what was going on in your life – to check on the bags under your eyes or whether you were being a little skittish because you were coming off a cocaine wave. They were wise enough to know when to give me a smack on the back of the head or when to share a beer with me on my birthday.
They were my fathers.
And now I’m a father. I probably have a very different perspective than the men before me. I try to be mindful of passing down a lot of the more toxic aspects of my masculine influences but I also want to impart the lifetimes of mistakes these men and I have made to assure this new Marcelo is maybe the one that gets things right.
To paraphrase the game that brought all these emotions out: I want to break the cycle.