This is definitely one of the more special jobs that Dad did, and it became more and more special as time went by, even up until the last 6 weeks of his life.
But First, About the Art...
Dad's part of this is the background image. Kevin Costner's photo was later superimposed. There were a couple different Field of Dreams artwork pieces done, some even that made it onto some versions of the VHS, but Dad's was the piece used for the one sheet.
The film is well-appreciated by many, not just baseball fans. It's a story about a man and the regrets he had with his estranged father, who had passed away years before.
In August of 2020, my family and I went back to Sioux City, Iowa, along with Mom and Dad, to hold a memorial for my Dad's mom, Mudge, who had just passed away from COVID-19. Being a big baseball family, we had made a habit of visiting different MLB stadiums whenever we could. Mom and Dad even joined us on some of those trips, and every year we would visit them in Phoenix and we'd all go watch Dodgers Spring Training games as our family tradition.
But with no fans being able to be in the stands this year, we didn't get to visit any new ballparks. Since the Field of Dreams baseball field, which is still in operation, is located in Dyersville, Iowa, just four hours from Sioux City, we took a family trip there to at least have some kind of baseball trip in the books.
Field of Dreams
Airbrushed Acrylic on Illustration Board
We have multiple connections to this movie that made this trip special.
It's based in Iowa, where we lived for part of our life in the Sioux City, Iowa area.
It's a fantastic baseball movie.
Dad obviously did the job.
It's a story about a father and son finishing well.
The last point needs some explaining.
A Father and His Son...
My whole life, I always had a great relationship with my Dad. We never once fought or argued. Not even once. So, unlike the movie, there was never a falling out or any need for reconciliation. However, my Dad was a man who carried a good deal of regret for things here and there. He always wished he had done this or that better; it could be his art, his golf game, or in this case, his parenting.
He would regularly comment to me how he wishes he was "more like how you are with your boys." One specific night, we were playing poker, just the two of us, in his garage in Phoenix, enjoying a cigar and a beer and good conversation. He starts talking about regrets. He says, "y'know, Jobe, I really wish I would have played catch with you. I never coached you or did those kinds of things like you do with your boys." I stopped him and said, "Dad, what are we doing right now?"
He said, "well what do you mean?"
I said, "what are we doing?" He replied, "well, playing poker." I said, "that's right...at one in the morning. Why? Because I have to? Because I should? No. Dad...I'm 34 years old, and I want to be in your garage at 1:00am playing poker with you because I enjoy being with you. Whatever you have in your head about some kind of regret or failure you have with me...you gotta let it go. Why are you living in the past? Look at us now!"
The crazy thing about this, is that I never once ever mentioned anything like this to him. Our whole life, Dad worked from home. He always right next door to my room, even through high school, and all my friends loved him. He stayed up late working, so he was always available, and I've never had any kind of "wish my Dad did more of" thoughts or comments. Ever!
But Dad did. Somehow he just convinced himself of this.
Upon our trip to Field of Dreams, I already knew this about Dad. And I just wanted my Dad to be Dad. I didn't want him to wish he was more like this guy or that guy, I just wanted him to be Dad, and be comfortable with what God gave him and gave us. So, while we were there, I went up to Dad and recited the famous line near the end of the movie, when Costner's character sees his ghost-dad, and says, "hey dad...wanna have a catch?" It was their moment of making up for regrets.
I had no regrets, but Dad did. And I wanted him to know that he could let go of them. So, I went up to him and said, "hey Dad...wanna have a catch?" And we did. But not just the two of us, but with his two grandsons.
Still with Regret...
After Dad was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer, the doctors shortly after also found a tumor in his brain. When we got news of this, Mom and Dad called me to talk. We spent about an hour and a half on the phone, and it was probably my favorite conversation I've ever had with my Dad. But one thing came up that day. He said again, "Jobe, I have a couple things I need to ask you about, that I just want to ask you to forgive me for. One is that I wish I had played catch with you more."
He shared a bit more, but then I answered him by reminding him of our conversation during poker that night 7 years earlier. And then I recounted our trip to Field of Dreams. I said, "Dad, I would take our one catch at Field of Dreams over 200 days of playing catch as a 10 year old. Because any dad can play catch with his 10 year old. The 10 year old has to, and every boy automatically thinks dad is a legend. But last year, I was a 41 year old adult, and I wanted to play catch with my Dad. I invited you to come on a four hour road trip to Field of Dreams because I wanted you to be with us. Anyone can have a good relationship with their 10 year old, but not everyone gets to have a great adult relationship with their son. So for that reason, whatever guilt you have, like I said years ago, let be in the past. You should know that the one game of catch at Field of Dreams was more important than anything you wish we would have had."
I told Dad that I have always, always looked forward to my two boys to become adults, because I have so loved my adult relationship with my Dad, that I can't wait to have that, by God's grace, with my own boys. And that's the truth. I loved what I had with Dad, and I am going to miss it. I can only hope to have the same with my boys so that I might be able to live out what we missed out on.
At that point, he sounded convinced, and even satisfied, as he just simply said, "okay." Usually, Dad would reply with a "well I know, Jobe, but don't you think...blah blah blah." He was never satisfied with the answer, because he just couldn't believe it. But this time, he did.
Field of Dreams will always have a special place in my family's heart. We know it's just a movie, but the movie connected our family in ways that went far beyond the movie itself.