Remembering George A. Romero by His Son, George Cameron Romero
I wish I could describe how I’m feeling right now, but all I can say is that I am numb to the core. When I received the news of my dad’s passing on Sunday, a lifetime crashed in on itself and the ringing in my head hasn’t stopped yet. Within minutes of finding out, my phone began to detonate with messages via text, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram… the world was mourning the loss of George A. Romero, arguably one of the most important independent filmmakers of all time… tweets of support, direct messages of love, voicemails of caring and emails of shoulders on which to cry…
I should mention at this point that I found out my father passed away from the LA Times. We weren’t close. And at least I can say with resolution that it wasn’t for a lack of trying on both of our parts.
Over the years, we would connect for a short time here and there. Hell… we had some amazing times… He’s the reason I became a filmmaker… he’s the reason I became a writer and a storyteller… he’s the entire reason that I have grown into the man and the artist I have become. For years I carried a lot of resentment toward him because I wanted him to try more or do more or call me just to say “I love ya, kid…” after all he’s my dad, right?
But as time went on and the things I WANTED to happen weren’t happening, I began to search for more creative ways to solve the problem… after all, that’s what you do… you work a problem… you find the angles… you try them all because something is going to work eventually… Then I realized the truth and it was a hard truth to realize… my dad is George A. Romero… my dad inspired millions, gave the world a gift with Night, touched every life he ever encountered, remembered every fan who shook his hand and what they talked about when they spent just enough time with him to get a picture or have something signed… He was beautiful that way. He was adored and rightfully so. In fact, he was a national treasure and that’s not something everyone can say about their dad.
There wasn’t a person he encountered who didn’t want something from him, be it money, fame or just simply time. I can’t even begin to imagine the tremendous weight that carries even though a lot of expectations have carried over to me being his son with assumptions that he handed me a career or paid my way through anything or made phone calls to get me advantages, breaks or deals. He didn’t do any of those things and I’m forever thankful to him for it.
I can’t imagine what it would be like to be some entitled kid out there succeeding only because he did or expecting a career because of something he did and not on my own merits… I’d rather fail than accept charity because I’m his blood.
So while the world is remembering George Romero and clamoring to prove their knowledge of his lexicon as some form of visual vocabulary or jump in line to prove they knew him better than the guy before them with tales of time spent with George, I take comfort in knowing that the small amount of time I spent with him over the years is something nobody can ever snatch from me. The looks he gave me said more than his words ever could, the hugs he gave me, and he gave the most amazing hugs, were different than the ones he gave to the hordes… they were ours.
While people write thesis’ about his work and analyze every frame of his films as a way to honor him or remember him, while posts are being made about the impact George had on people’s lives, I am one of only three people alive who can say that the world is doing and saying those things about my dad… we three get to carry that badge of honor… we three must carry his memory and his legacy in all that we do for the rest of our days. For years, I’ve been written about, talked about or introduced as “George Romero’s son,” sometimes without the decency of even including my actual name in the sentence… I resented that on a lot of levels but was happy about it at the same time. There was a reverence that people had for him… a respect.
I realized at a young age what it meant to be his son, at least I thought I did. I’m aware that certain doors opened because I’m his son even though he didn’t open them for me. And what I can say about that is simply that my lineage may have opened a door or two, but I was the man who walked through them. I can also say that while I may have walked through doors as George Romero’s Son, I walked back out of those rooms, George Cameron Romero, the man who earned the right to stay in those rooms on my own merits, not my blood line. I’m proud of that.
And so my journey continues… I will continue to make films, I will continue to write, I will continue to live in his shadow but will not resent it or carry anger about… there is no shadow I would rather walk within, no legacy I would rather carry on and no greater person I would like to dedicate my entire career to up to this point and from this point forward.
Most people in his life got a lot more of George than I ever did and I will walk with jealousy toward them on the one hand for the rest of my life, but on the other hand, I will carry his name and his bloodline proudly for the rest of my days realizing that no matter what ever happened or didn’t happen between us…
I am George Romero’s son… I am George Romero.