Many who don’t know me well think it odd that I often speak of Godzilla movies and Japanese monsters. They would think it even more odd if they knew that the first time I held each of my grandchildren I said, “God, Baseball, Godzilla.” And it would seem to those same people entirely unfathomable why my dear, sweet spouse would choose Godzilla as the theme for my 70th birthday. Yet, so she did. – Here’s the reason why.
The Summer of 1956 was a particularly important year in my life. We were staying with my Aunt Dorothy at the time. You would recognize me immediately. I was the one with the broken left leg, the cast from toe to thigh, the crutches, and the wheelchair. This was all because I made the acquaintance of the front bumper of 1953 Buick in a rather unfortunate and dramatic way.
But that was not the reason why the Summer of 1956 was so important for me. No, I can now laugh at how that 1953 Buick viciously attacked me. I even make up stories how Buicks stalk me and seek opportunities to finish off the job they started those many years ago. I can find humor in in all of that.
The Summer of 1956, however, had a darker side. That was when my dear sister Sylvia died. I knew it was coming; I could see it happening; and I knew there was nothing I could do. During that Summer, I could find no humor or relief from that reality.
During my breaks from spending time with my big sister, I watched daytime TV. I can’t remember a single thing I watched except for one ad that remains with me to this day – it was the trailer for the release of Godzilla, King of the Monsters. (You can see it here.) That trailer piqued my imagination and it diverted my attention, if only briefly, from the bitter realities around me.
I was captivated by the immensity of the destruction, the horrors, and the devastation. – For moment, oh so very brief, Godzilla was real and everything else around me was fake. – It eased the pain. And where others were horrified, I found myself caught between strange feelings of humor and anticipation. And then, 1 minute and 43 seconds later, I was back in my wheelchair and moving slowly towards my sister’s room.
It was years before I ever saw the movie, all I had was the memory of the trailer. It was even longer before I saw the uncut, wonderfully thrilling original Japanese language version sans Raymond Burr. Then came the very good years. The years when my children were young and we could go to the base theater in Japan and watch Godzilla on the big, silver screen – those wonderful Saturday afternoons with children, popcorn, and Godzilla.
And now, my son and I can do the same with the grandchildren – little more than an hour watching the movie and then hours of talking about Godzilla. And then comes the big question – “Granddad, what’s your favorite Godzilla movie, ever?” – – Perhaps the best answer would be. “The 1956 trailer for the release of Godzilla, King of the Monsters.”
So, one wife, three children, one daughter-in-law, two sons-in-law, and eleven grandchildren later, as I quietly slip into my seventies, my dear sweet, beautiful and thoughtful wife declared that this birthday would be about Dad/Granddad and Godzilla – and so it was.
It is only fitting that both Godzilla and I thank this wonderful woman, this precious gift from God, this one person who really understands why I greet each new grandchild with the simple words – “God, Baseball, Godzilla.”
Thank you so very much!