Affirming Those We Love

downloadI’ve been reading Michael Parkinson‘s autobiography called “Parky” for a second time. It’s a beautiful book with some real human stories. One such story evolves around his interview with past and famous actor Henry Fonda. Fonda loved to talk about his talented children, especially Jane. In the interview he said the following about her:   “She is one of the most incredible actresses I have ever seen . When I saw Klute, as an example, I couldn’t wait to sit and talk to her, not father to daughter, but actor to actor. I realized one scene that particularly knocked me out was improvisation, which I couldn’t do if I was paid a lot of money. It just tore me apart.”

Many years later Parky was interviewing Jane Fonda and she was sharing how distant her father had been, how he seemed unable to communicate with his family. Remembering the Interview he had had with Henry Fonda, Parky told her what he had said about her. She responded rather sadly, “He never told me.” Parkinson then said to her that in the interview her father had described her as one of the most extraordinary actresses he had ever seen. Her eyes filled with tears. “Why didn’t he tell me,” she said. At the end of the show she was given a copy of that interview so that she could finally hear her father’s words about her.

Parkinson writes, “How strange he could have so publicly and proudly praised her and yet not found it possible to tell her himself, knowing, as he surely must have, how much she craved his approval.” Is it really so strange? Don’t we all do this to some degree?

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About Don

I love life. Sometimes it makes sense, other times not. Discerning its underlying patterns and beauty always provides great reward and meaning and is a passion I ineptly follow. I feel deeply attached to nature and love the sea with its distinct moods and colour and find walking along its beaches wonderfully inspiring. Writing, sketching and photography is a sheer joy for me and the blog is one of the places I am able to express these pursuits.
This entry was posted in Identity, inspiration, Life, Men and Women, Transformation, wisdom and insight and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Affirming Those We Love

  1. ladyfi says:

    Unfortunately, it is true that sometimes it’s easier to open up to strangers… What a sad story. And beautifully written.

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  2. Healthy A-Z says:

    So many times a parent will say, “But s/he knows how much I love…how proud I am…” And the truth is the child doesn’t know and needs to be told over and over again in words and in actions. I took this idea to heart with my daughter and told her and showed her regularly. She even thinks I may be a little prejudicial…and so I am. That’s what love can do for you! 😉

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  3. Greg. says:

    Eros, affection, friendship, charity! To love and to be loved is for many the true purpose of life. Especially parental love.
    How utterly sad then is this story. It makes me angry.
    What was his problem? What a waste of opportunity, that his daughter was loved and admired by millions, and her own father could not find ways and means of the most natural act of expressing love for his child.

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    • Don says:

      It is very sad Greg, but at least in the end she heard the words. What is interesting for me is that there was a movie called “On Golden Pond” and in it Jane Fonda acts with her father Henry Fonda who actually plays the role of her father. In the movie he will just not approve of her. Little did we know that they weren’t just playing a role – it was real. Again – very sad.

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  4. Oh Don, I believe it is enough for me to say that if I commented more on this, I would become far too emotional. It is so true and I don’t know why.

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  5. nrhatch says:

    I’ve read interviews with Jane Fonda before where she shared similar sentiments about her father being “aloof.”

    Given all the ways that parents can “fall short” . . . it’s amazing that any of us reach adulthood “unscathed.”

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  6. I have witnessed this in my relatives. Everyone needs to read this…

    Blessings ~ Wendy

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  7. That is so sad. I’m sure we all crave the attention and approval of our parents, no matter what our standing in the world. At least she finally did manage to find out what he had said about her but how much more meaningful it would have been had he have told her himself.

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  8. josna says:

    Generations of men couldn’t express their tender feelings in words, and yes, it is sad; but—just to be contrarian, Don(!), it may also be a cultural and generational thing. If one reads other, non-verbal signs one knows that the love and admiration is there. In India, for example, parents (of the older generation)were not supposed to praise their own children, but that didn’t mean they didn’t love them.

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    • Don says:

      Thanks for being contrarian, Josna. What you say about parents of the older generation in India is quite fascinating. Was there a particular reason why they were not supposed to praise their children? Yes, you’re so right. There are all sorts of non-verbal signs of affirmation.

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      • josna says:

        Two explanations come to mind, Don. One is that if you lived in a joint family, with children of your brothers and or brothers-in-law as well as your own, you had to be careful not to be seen to be playing favorites, favoriting your own child over your nieces and nephews. The other explanation has to be with praising other people’s children–saying out loud how beautiful or talented they are could draw evil spirits to them.

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      • Don says:

        Very interesting Josna. I wonder what kind of effect that has on children. Does it enable them to be more independent in perceiving their own worth? Quite some thought here.

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