You left us 10 years ago. How can that be? Around this time, I was about to see you for the last time. I went to teach in Toronto and you were gone on August 15th. I’m sure that when I left you in your Novato house, I did what I often did. Drove back home down 101 South over the Golden Gate Bridge listening to Blossom Dearie’s album The Diva Series and weeping.
So tonight, near the end of my first week teaching my 26th Summer Orff Levels Course, I had some 40 assignments waiting for me to read them. After teaching all day and giving an hour plus lecture, it was hard to face. But I had the good idea of listening to some music while working and stumbled on Blossom’s album. And just like a smell can transport you instantly to Grandma’s kitchen and all the feelings that went along with it, so Blossom takes me to you.
Of course, your photo is on my desk, Mom’s too, so you’re never that far. But these songs brought me to the heart of you, the whole complication of a father and son sharing 56 years together on this planet, as well as the beauty of the healing and forgiveness and gratitude and appreciation and deep love that gathered together in your last 15 years after you moved to California and then intensified in the last 6 months as you struggled to recover (at 88 years old) from your triple by-pass surgery and then finally gave up. Stopped eating and stayed with us for 10 more weeks with plenty of time for goodbyes. Time spent listening to music, talking, laughing, crying, watching old movies. And though I was sorry not to be by your side at the last moments, it was about as good a goodbye as it could have been.
No matter how much we work to accept that life is a perpetual goodbye, the grief is always there alongside the joy. But tonight, I feel you here and it’s a great blessing. I like who I have become and am endlessly grateful that the outer world has met the inner world to offer the work and play just right for me. I know you were proud of me and I believe you knew how I grew to appreciate you and both mean the world to me.
So Dad, just wanted to let you know you are still here with me and why not share it with the few folks who read these things? If their folks are still alive, it might edge them toward more appreciation, forgiveness, love. If their folks have passed, they might know what I’m talking about. Now Blossom is singing “Someone to Watch Over Me” and I feel you looking down. Thanks forever for being my father.
Your always loving son,