My Dad...

My Dad...
Herbie "Pompeii" Pilato

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My Parents Had "20/20" Vision - From The "In-Sight, Out"

You may remember a post I made here on my blog back in February of 2010. It was titled, "My Dad Had Twenty Hearts," and it had to do with a trip I took to Charleston, South Carolina to do research for The Bionic Book - on the set on the final Bionic TV-reunion movie, Bionic Ever After.

I re-post that recollection today, following this new recollection having to do with a night I planned to have a good time in Rochester, circa 1989, long before THE "BIONIC" BOOK was finally published (in 2007), not to mention also before my first book, THE "BEWITCHED" BOOK, was published (in 1992).

Since both recollections had to do with my parents generosity and beautiful hearts, I thought to combine the memories - today, in this one post.




I had left Los Angeles in the Fall of 1989, a few months after I had met Elizabeth Montgomery, while doing early research for what would become the first Bewitched Book. In writing this first book, I had absolutely nothing.

And when I say, "nothing," I mean, "nothing." Not a stick of furniture or a dime or a car or "nothing." I had to sell all of my furniture and belongings to pay my rent and eat, and I was planning on returning to my hometown of Rochester to complete the book - which I did, ultimately, in the room in which I spent my latter teen years.

But I digress.

One night, while back in that Rochester of 1989, I wanted to go out with a few friends for a reunion of sorts. But I had no money to spend, even for a ginger ale. So I asked my Mom if I could borrow $20.00. And that was a hard thing to do. I had already returned to their home, was eating their food, and living in their house for free - all as an adult. And now, I was asking for money to go "party."

But when I asked my Mom for that twenty bucks, she didn't flinch for a second, and gave it to me immediately.

I remember how I felt with after she handed it to me. Before she did so, I felt like a "loser," after she did so, I felt like "a million bucks."

How could $20.00 make such a difference?

How could I have given it that much power over me?

I soon would find out.

That night, I took that $20 and met my friends. We all met at a local bar, and as I recall, there were many pretty girls. And I was "safe," because I had that 20 in my pocket, and I would be able to buy at least one drink for one of the ladies.

Is that insane, or what?

But before I even decided who or what was or wasn't crazy, I reached into my pocket for the "money," and realized it was gone. I had lost it. And I was pissed off.

So much so, that I allowed it to not only ruin my evening, but to somehow diffuse any "good" energy or carefree spirit that I may have ignited in myself that night. But more than that, I thought how much I would disappoint my Mom when I would tell her about losing the twenty.

Twenty dollars is certainly not a lot of money today, and it wasn't even a lot of money in 1989, but it was a generous gift from my Mom, who never had a lot of money to any decade.

In any case, after I realized I was "broke" that night (on many levels), I left the bar and returned home...early.

I come in the door at my parent's house at about 10:00 PM, and my Mom wondered why. I was clearly upset, and she wondered why about that, too.

"I lost that twenty you gave me, Mom. And I'm so sorry. I'm just an idiot. I know how hard you and Dad struggle, and here I am, taking twenty bucks from you...taking advantage of you. And then, not evening having the good sense to be careful with what you give me."

Again, I told her, "I'm SO sorry."

As I stood there, in emotional ruin, near the hall stairs, my Mom just looked at me a minute and said, "Herbie're going to let a mere twenty dollars run your life? You're a better man than that...and you have a better MIND than that. That twenty dollars doesn't mean anything to me. But you mean everything."

And with that, she reached for her purse, and took out another $20.00, and handed it over to me, saying, "Go back out with your friends - and have a good time."

She didn't add, "And just be careful" or "This time, be more mindful" or anything of that.

She just said, "Go back out with your friends - and have a good time."

I hesitated. I didn't even care to return to that (then-smoked-filled) bar. But my Mom insisted. "Go," she said.

And so I did.

However, I'm not sure if I used that "second twenty bucks" to buy any drinks for any pretty girls. But I do know that the carefree spirit that was once infused by that first 20 was now alive in me because I now knew just how blessed I was to have such an awesome with an endless, unconditional, nonjudgemental such a generous way that was simply not of this world.

But thank God she - and my Dad - were in mine.


MY DAD HAD TWENTY HEARTS (originally posted in February, 2010)

Way back in 1994, when I was doing early research for The Bionic Book, I was fortunate enough to visit the set of the third and final Bionic reunion movie, Bionic Ever After, when Steve Austin (as played by Lee Majors) and Jaime Sommers (Lindsay Wagner) finally married. The movie was being filmed in Charleston, South Carolina - a place I had then yet to visit.

Meanwhile, and unfortunately, my Dad was suffering from lung cancer back in my hometown of Rochester NY, and I was about whether or not to leave him for the film.

But my Dad, ever stoic, insisted that I take the trip. He knew how much being on the set of that movie would ultimately mean and contribute to my book. He also knew that I needed a rest from caregiving. That's the kind of man that he was.

So, I made my plans to leave for Charleston. Yet, before doing so, I took a walk with my Dad to the pool that was part of the townhome complex where we lived.

There I was - young, healthy, excited about the trip. And yet sad...because I was walking with my elderly, ill father, who only months before, had been the picture of health himself. In fact, he had not been sick a day in his life, and at 83-years-old, he had always looked much younger. If anyone could have been a movie-star, it was my Dad.

But not at the time of our walk. Not with his walker. And not with the tubes that ran from his nose to the oxygen tank.

My Dad's heart, however, was in peak condition, physically and emotionally. His pride was there for his son - as was his generosity - which was "on the money."

For in the middle of the walk, my Dad stopped, and reached into his pocket and pulled out a twenty-dollar bill - which he had somehow prepared to give me before we started the walk.

"Here," he said, "you take this...for your trip. In case you need it."

At this point, of course, I was making money as a writer. Not hundreds of thousands, but certainly enough to get me to Charleston and back.

But I could not turn away from Dad's mere twenty-dollar offer.

I looked in his eyes. The sincerity, with which he was giving me that small amount of money, was so loving-kind, pensive and massive. It would have cracked his heart in two had I rejected his offer.

What's more, by this time, the cancer in his lungs had slightly started to affect his emotions - and his thinking. My Dad's age, combined with the general inability to grasp onto just how different the world had become, how twenty dollars was really not a lot of money - for a young man or even a senior - all worked to cloud his perspective.

Ultimately, for my Dad, that twenty dollars was a lot of money. For me, it was a modest amount that became a priceless gift.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Herbie J,
    I loved your stories. They are sweet and dear. So close to what I am embarking on in my own life with aging parents. Thank you for sharing that part of your life with us.

    Jennifer Tomassetti