Monday, August 17, 2009

My Dad; Memories of the Music.

My dad was a musician, primarily a guitarist, though I don't think he ever picked up an instrument that he couldn't play. And I don't mean that he simply toyed with music. It was his life, and as such, it was the entire family's life. I grew up with live music reverberating throughout our home. We had a constant flow of company, often other musicians, and I sometimes think the music is still echoing through the rooms of that old house, even after all these years.

My dad loved to travel. He would load all of us into the car and off we would go, on long dusty road trips that would often stretch on for weeks. He would stop at various music stores at various little towns, walk in, take the best guitar off the pegs on the wall and begin to play. Invariably, everyone in the store would gather around him (he was that good) and often he would get a job offer or two in just about every town. He would just chuckle.

As soon as I could walk, I could dance. Mom would dress me up and dad would pull out his guitar and begin to play and sing, and I ws encouraged to dance. I was a cute liittle thing, born happy, dancing and twirling and laughing. of his three daughters, i was the only one who inherited his love for music and it made me feel like I was the most special to him of his kids.

I wanted to learn how to play guitar early on. The only problem was, I was too little to hold a full sized guitar. Dad solved that problem by buying me a ukelele. I never learned how to play the thing, but I carried it with me everywhere I went. I have no memory of this, but I bet anything I slept with it. I loved my little ukelele. I loved it right up to the minute I whacked my cousin over the head with it and it broke in half. End of the ukelele. Dad decided to get me a harmonica. (he could play a mean harmonica..) it wasn't my ukelele, but I liked it well enough. I liked it right up until I discovered that if I blew hard on it next to our dog's ear. I could make the dog howl outrageously loud. The harmonica immediately disappeared.

All the neighbors knew, of course, that my dad was an excellent guitarist and, in the natural course of things, they began to ask him to teach their kids how to play. I don't think he ever refused a musical opportunity and soon we had a steady stream of boys coming into our house for lessons. This coincided with my early teen years so I was in my absolute glory. I would keep track of when the cutest guys were due to show up, and I would preen and primp and perch myself in the room where dad gave those lessons. It didn't take long for dad to put a damper on this fun routine and I was told I couldn't sit in on those lessons unless I was going to learn myself. No problem! I began my own lessons. (Eventually I went on to play classical guitar for many years, even considering, for a while, going to South America to study for a summer.)

My friends loved hanging out at our house. I think a few of them had a secret crush on my dad. He was utterly charming. I hated that. Hated it, because as soon as he would pull out that guitar, they would gather around him, leaving me sulking alone in the background. He seemed to always be the center of attention witohut even trying. He attracted people like bees to honey.

My dad is gone now, but I have his guitar. I don't play it (nor do I play my own which is leaning in the corner behind me as I write this.) Dad's guitar still has his old strings on it. They would probably snap in half if I tried to pluck them, but they are HIS strings on HIS guitar and i will never change them. Ever. Eventually, that guitar will probably end up in the possession of one of my kids but they will not cherish it the way I do. I wish I could find someone who loves guitar as much as he did to leave it to, but that probably will not happen. Maybe later today I will go and take it out of the case and just reminisce. Maybe not. It would probably make me cry. Or, on second thought. maybe it would make me smile.

My earliest memories include that of my dad singing this to me every night before I fell asleep.


  1. What a beautiful tribute. I really hope you take up the guitar one day. I know it would be good for you! Thanks for sharing.



  2. thanks, Candy. I played for a long, long time but reached a point where I was not going to get any better at it so I put it aside and never went back to it. maybe some day I will, tho.

  3. That's a wonderful memory, Beej. You should print this out and save it for your kids. Mine have finally reached the age (their 20's) when they are interested in hearing about these kinds of things. I wish I had written down more that my dad told me.

  4. Good idea, Barb! Maybe someday I'll even have grandchildren who will want to know this stuff.

    It's never too late for you to start writing your family stories for the boys, Barb. Plus, I would like to read them too!

  5. Oh, another thing; because Yulia commented that she is learning a lot about other Constant Readers as a result of my posting my blog doings over there, I decided to post this one about my dad at CR too. I'm curious to see if other folks will share their most .precious memories I would love for that to happen.

  6. Oh Beej that was lovely.

    I also remember Scarlet Ribbons, that and Danny Boy were my dad's favorites songs. SR was definitely one which fixes an era in time.

    My memories of my dad are around being outdoors, in the garden, going for walks, him helping me with primary school projects when I needed to gather leaves of garden plants, trees etc. And when I was a wee bit younger, being flung high above his head and giggling in joy.

    Sadly, I "lost" my dad when I was 10 to a series of strokes, which rapidly took away all his sparkle, all communication and movement.

    I did not understand it at the time, only much later, he finally died when I was 20, that behind those waterfilled eyes, somewhere in the silence was that same love I expereinced in my childhood shining through the pain of not being able to show it. Now, everytime I see a Robin, I think of that as my dad keeping an eye on me as I continue through life.

  7. Oh Sheila, that brought tears to my eyes. How beautiful.
    My dad used to swing me up over his head too. He would come home from work and go down on one knee with his arms aoutstretched and i would RUN into them! My daddy was home!

    I lost both of my parents way too soon, too. But, boy, did they ever leave me a lifetime of love.


Go ahead, you can do it! Just whistle if you want me. You know how to whistle, don't you? You just put your lips together and BLOW....

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