Big Fish

Don’t we all know someone who likes to tell stories? I mean really good stories, even if we know or just suspect that they might have a little extra garnish mixed in? I think we all do or have. And I know that we have all had someone very close to us pass away, either suddenly, or from some horrible disease like cancer. I personally know several people who can tell great stories and like you, I have had the heartache of losing people I love dearly to something unfortunately there seems to be no cure for.

This film starring Ewan McGregor, Albert Finney, Billy Crudup and Jessica Lange tells a story about a traveling salesman who tells his son and the whole world such outlandish stories all his life that you never really know what to believe, or to believe them at all.

Edward Bloom (Albert Finney) who is a charismatic teller of tall tales, is also the frustration to his only child, William (Will) played by Billy Crudup. At Will’s wedding, Edward embarrasses him by telling the guests an impossible-sounding story about the day of Will’s birth, which involves a giant catfish that ate his wedding ring. Extremely ashamed, Will confronts him angrily. They don’t speak to each other for three years.

Will gets word that his father is ill and may not have long to live so he and his pregnant wife go back to his hometown to spend some time with him. Will hopes to get to know “the real” father, instead of the one who is known for telling such unbelievable elaborate stories.  Will’s mother, Sandra K. Bloom has brought his father home so she can take care of him until his passing. Even though Edward is weak, Will still insists on knowing the truth about his father’s life. Although Edward tells him again, Will still doesn’t believe his father and sees him as a liar and tells ludicrous stories for attention. Edward adamantly admits that he has always told him the truth and he is just who he is…

Will does a little investigating into the world of his father and finds that there is a lot of truth to his fictional sounding stories, although he believes he will never have a chance to know his father’s true character. Becoming worse, Edward has a stroke and has to be in the hospital for his remaining days. Will decides that it is time to reconcile with his dying father.

Now, Edward cannot speak well nor tell anymore stories, but he is able to ask his son to tell him the story of how his life will end. Will decides the best thing to do for his father is to tell him a quick tall tale that they escape from the hospital and race to the river in Edwards classic car, where all their family and friends are waiting for them. It’s not a funeral that they are attending, but rather a farewell party. As he carries his father to the river, Edward is waiving to everyone present. Will goes on with his story and tells his father that as he lays him down into the water that he transforms into this huge catfish and swims away. Then, just as soon as he finishes the story, his father died.

At the funeral, to Wills surprise, he sees many cars drive up, delivering all the people from his father’s stories. The same tall tales that once seemed unbelievable, now seem to be true after all, only embellished a little.

Recently I lost one of my dearest friends to that stupid disease called cancer. We had been friends for more than 30+ years. He was my Big Fish in a way, not because he was imaginary, but because he was bigger than life…you knew where you stood with him. He was many things to me at different times in my life, my classmate, a silly boy who wouldn’t stop annoying me in my teens, my secret keeper, my shoulder to cry on, my stern voice when I needed someone to be real with me, my confidant when I couldn’t tell anyone but him, my “brother”, my mischievous buddy, my own comedic relief at times, my hang out and watch a movie with because we’re bored companion, my advisor; even when I didn’t want to hear his 2 cents, my strength when I couldn’t find my own and the one who gave me the confidence to be me again. He was easy to talk to and he never made fun of my off-the-wall thoughts or crazy ideas. Now, he wasn’t one to be crazy himself, he was very particular on how he was perceived or seen through the eyes of, well, everyone. He never wanted to look foolish, he was always a top notch guy, he was rigid when he needed to be (maybe that was the Policeman in him) and for the most part, a private person, unless you were lucky to be someone he trusted and let see his soft side every now and then.

I have many memories of him, but my favorite is a gift he gave me one year for my birthday… you see he, among a handful of others knew that I had always loved this old house in town, just an old pier and beam, something that looked like it should be in the middle of a pasture up on a hill.  I mean I really loved this house (still do) it was in some much needed repair, and I would dream of living in it always, but in reality I knew that it would never be mine. To me, it was the epitome of what a “home” would look like or should look like… in fact I always thought the address was 815 when in reality, it was 813 due to an empty lot next door… anyway, feeling dumb that I had always referred to it as 815, he came over to deliver his gift…it was all tucked into a pretty bag, he had even used pink tissue paper, I mean he went all out! (Must’ve been that soft side seeping out)

I couldn’t imagine what it could be… there were 3 separate items wrapped up along with a card. The first one was a metal house number…# 5, then I unwrapped the 8 and then as you can expect…the 1… I first thought it was a little unusual to give me these certain numbers…but then I opened the card and read the words…

“Arrange the numbers in the right order and you’ll always be home”

I will always cherish that gift…always.

He didn’t tell tall tales, in fact he was the opposite, he was truth and facts only…but I know he enjoyed hearing and reading my stories, especially if he was in them and was portrayed with class. Simply stated “Pure”!

Thanks my dear friend for being that “Big Fish”, the one that is nowhere near being gone, but that is only swimming out front of that beautiful eternal household.

I will see you again, when I too, get home!


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