March 22, 2013 at 11:39 AM ET
We're attracted to celebrities because of their films, television shows, and all the bits of glamour that make up what appears to be an outsized and envious lifestyle. But the times when these people become the most interesting is when that sheen becomes a little penetrable, when they reveal a little bit about their actual human selves. That reveal is exactly what transpires -- in spades -- in a March 20 blog post by actor Dax Shephard that's going viral.
The "Parenthood" star took to his Tumblr and wrote about losing his father Dave Robert Shepard Sr. to cancer on "December 30th or December 31st, depending on what time zone you were in." The post, titled "My Father's Horniness," speaks beautifully about how Dax helped his father fight and ultimately succumb to cancer -- and gets to the fact that the senior Shepard had a way of charming women right to the end (as you might have sensed from the title).
"It was the only project we ever teamed up on," Dax wrote about helping his dad cope. "We never built a tree house or a soap box derby car together, but you would have never known it by watching us tear through chemo decisions and radiation plans."
Dax and his father's relationship hadn't always been so great. Like so many, their path smoothed out when they found themselves with a new, unwelcome common cause: to "get into the end zone gracefully," as Dax put it.
The actor, based in Los Angeles, made frequent trips to Detroit over the course of his father's final four months. The two did stuff that mattered for the last time: they visited the old houses they once lived in, ate at Dave's favorite restaurants a last time. They apologized, shared tears and hugs. "I spent the majority of our time together running my hand lightly over the tiny little hairs peaking out from the back of his soft, bald head. He let me do that for hours. Without any awareness of it at the time, the trips home turned into a proper Alexander Payne Movie. It became one of the more beautiful experiences of my life," Dax wrote.
Among the most poignant vignettes is Dax's story about his wife, actress Kristen Bell, who while pregnant with their baby, surprised father and son in Detroit. This was toward the very end; Dave was no longer able to do much of anything -- not even speak. She lifted her shirt so he could put his hand on her belly, over his unborn grandchild, and "he left it there for the better part of an hour. He was smiling from ear to ear, sitting contently, unable to put together a sentence, but still capable of connecting to the new family member we were creating."
But the story doesn't end there. Read it for yourself, and learn a little bit more about the man who was making nurses smile until the end, about a father and son who made peace, and a life -- while not perfect -- that was well lived and loved. As one user who re-blogged the post put it, "I never thought I’d get teary eyed over something having to do with Dax Shepard. Yet here I am at work, trying to hold back the waterworks."
And on Thursday, Dax took to Twitter to convey his appreciation for how fans received his writing. "Reading all of these beautiful responses has been overwhelming in the most glorious way. Thank you to everyone who read and shared back."