Monday, May 1, 2017

As I Knew Him: My Dad, Rod Serling

Anne Serling's memoir of her father Rod is a moving and loving tribute to the man she knew as a fun companion, a sure foundation, and an adored father who died much too young.

Anne talks about her father's beloved parents and his love of family, his encountering prejudice even from his mother-in-law, and the devastating experience of war in the South Pacific that left him with nightmares. Therein are the roots of the values we discover in his Twilight Zone episodes, his nostalgic idealization of childhood and children, the power of compassion and forgiveness, the need for civilization to "remain civilized."

After his war service, tortured by PTSD, Rod turned to writing as catharsis. He believed that prejudice was the basic evil from which all evils took root. The stories he wrote attack the worst of mankind, and extol our best efforts. And yet, behind this tortured and angry righteousness lay the heart of a child, a man who loved to be goofy, who got on his hands and knees to play with his beloved dogs. He loved watching The Flintstones and Huckleberry Hound with his girls, Christmas, trips to Disneyland, summers at the cottage, and It's A Wonderful Life.

He was a lifelong smoker, never without a cigarette, his girls gagging and coughing and complaining in the car and throwing out his cigarettes behind his back. I had to smile, for I had done those same things to my mother.

Rod was a very short man, fit and tan, with dark wavy hair and eyebrows, dark eyes. I had never it considered before, but he looked like my own father. Dad was 5' 7" and 130 pounds most of my life, with dark wavy hair and thick eyebrows. The resemblance strikes me now.
Rod Serling

My dad.
As a girl watching the Twilight Zone, my favorite show at age 8, I did notice Rod's smoking. I thought that when I grew up and smoked I'd buy cigarettes from the company that was his sponsor. I never did smoke, thankfully.

As I read Anne's story about her father's last days and death I shared her grief, recalling my own father's and mother's death by cancer. I feel great sympathy. She was only twenty when she lost her dad and it took many years for healing to come.

The writer's role is to menace the public's conscience, Rod Serling wrote. The parables and messages of his work are as relevant today as they were in the 1960s.

This is a beautiful memoir about a man who did not expect to be remembered but who has impacted generations.

Read the beginning of the book at As I Knew Him. Visit Anne Serling's web page at http://www.anneserling.com.
Read more about the Twilight Zone and it's value lessons at
https://theliteratequilter.blogspot.com/2017/04/everything-i-need-to-know-i-learned-in.html