Last weekend, I had the unexpected pleasure of hearing Buzz Bissinger speak at Powell’s Books in Beaverton, Oregon. Bissinger is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist mostly known for his bestseller, Friday Night Lights. He was there to promote his new book, Father’s Day.
Father’s Day is the story about his cross-country trip with his autistic adult son in 2007, but his talk last week was about coming to terms with the expectations parents have for their children. Bissinger pointed out that both books are about the same topic, fathers and sons, hopes and dreams.
Father’s Day does not include multiple story lines like Friday Night Lights, it is simply about the author’s relationship with his son, Zach. Zach was born 13 weeks premature and suffered brain- damage but his twin, Gerry, survived with no ill effects and has gone on to college, graduate school and is soon to be married. Zach however, is stuck in time and Bissinger discussed his nearly 30 years of mourning the loss of Zach’s “normal” life. He lamented that Zach will never kiss, hold a job or achieve independence.
He said, “You want your children to do well, be happy, be on the right path.” He spoke of trying to reconcile his own need for success in his life with his inability to help his son. He honestly told the crowd that for many years he would have angry tirades yelling, “I deserve a different son!”
To read more about how Mr. Bissinger's feelings and relationship with his autistic son, click here for the rest of the post. My friend and colleague and I take turns updating our PermissionSlips blog each week.