The Sad State of Affairs, Or When Politics Turned My Dad Off Tom Hanks

Tom Hanks is often known as “Mr. Everyman.” Articles even detail the “four stages” of Hank’s Hero Everyman Status https://www.inverse.com/article/20727-tom-hanks-sully-everyman-hero-forrest-gump-big

Hanks was my father’s favorite actor for years. And he genuinely is not only a great actor, but a truly good guy. At least, that is one reporter’s experience. She tells the story in: The Daily Podcast’s The Sunday Read: This Tom Hanks Story Will Make You Feel Less Bad: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/15/podcasts/the-daily/tom-hanks-coronavirus.html?searchResultPosition=1

Listening to the podcast this morning, I loved Tom Hanks even more. I also realized that I did not think that “everyman” is as nice and kind as Tom Hanks seems to be. But I always thought my father was that man — with a huge heart and a desire to be kind and do good, with lots of love for everyone and a belief that life is good. He would wake me in the mornings singing “Oh What A Beautiful Morning,” and I would run to jump into his arms when I heard his truck pull up at the end of each day, so full of joy that he was home, because he made me feel protected and loved.

What should have been a happy, uplifting story about the kind man that Tom Hanks seems to be was, to me, a heartbreaking one. It broke my heart because my father, who used to say that Hanks was his very favorite actor, now will not watch a movie or TV show with him in it.

I don’t know why, exactly. When Dad announced he wouldn’t watch anything with “that man” in it, I was too shocked to ask for an explanation and I already knew it would have something to do with Hank’s supposed “socialist” or “liberal” leaning which my father now sees as such a threat. I dare not bring up politics with him because it will just end in a fight and when he made the statement I was into week 2 of living with him to help figure out how to deal with the coronavirus and my Mom’s recover from an emergency hip replacement. I hadn’t lived at home in 42 years, and my Dad thinks a Costco and grocery store run are a daily necessity, and this is in Texas where I was not at all sure people were taking necessary precautions and he has an underlying heart condition as does my Mom.

Our nerves were already on edge not only because of all of that, but because the drugs she was taking had Mom calling us at 4 a.m. every morning from the Rehab Center telling us to come and get her out of that “hellhole” (a newly built, pristine, well-reviewed center we visited each day to speak to her via our cellphones through her window). We had a lot of adjusting to do, and our nerves were raw, and our political views are strongly held and contrary to one another.

To see my always kind, loving father turned into a man who cannot stand to watch the nicest, kindest actor play nice, kind characters anymore makes me cry. Politics and the desire for power and control have created too much divisiveness, so much mistrust, an overabundance of anger and hate.

What we need are more Mr. Rogers in this world. What we need are more Tom Hanks.

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