….that’s how my dad would refer to himself when he thought he looked good. And we heard it a lot. Because dad always looked good.
Today marks the anniversary of his passing. It’s been 6 years, and while each anniversary gets a little bit easier, it doesn’t change the fact that there’s a spot in my heart that will always be just a little bit damaged from losing the first man I ever loved. We didn’t have a perfect relationship, and it wasn’t always easy, but if I’ve learned anything in the time since he’s been gone, it’s that our relationship was always worthwhile.
After my dad passed away, my best friend, my sister and I were to clear out some of his things. We found 4 pages of songs that he wanted played at his funeral. If he would have had it his way, we probably would have had a music festival in his honor. Well, we didn’t have that kind of time or that much money. We did manage to find a slightly more cost-effective way to honor his memory; we took songs from that list as well as songs chosen by me, my sister and his best friend and created a compilation CD. We then handed one out to each person in attendance at his memorial service. It may not have been all of the songs he chose, but he hasn’t chosen to haunt me or my sister for our song choices or lack of a music festival, so I’m gonna go ahead and take that as Dad’s stamp of approval.
Both my parents loved music, so my sister and I grew up in a household where at least one stereo was playing at all times. In fact our downstairs stereo was Dad’s piece de resistance. He’d proudly show off his Klipsch stereo system anytime he had guests over. There were many a night where my sister and I would be jarred awake from a deep sleep because our dad had to show his friends how great his speakers sounded at close to full blast. Mom would tell him to keep it down and he’d promptly ignore her. You see, my mom and dad both loved music but went about it quite differently. Mom had her favorites that she would listen to on a regular rotation. She’d listen to it, appreciate it and then file it away before it got annoying. Not my dad. He had a way of playing songs so frequently (overplayed was not a word in his vocabulary) that you would get to a point where you would rather to stab your eardrums than hear that fucking Crash Test Dummies song one more time.
But for him, it wasn’t just about the lyrics, or even the melody. It was about the layers and the composition. His dream had always been to be a sound engineer and while it was a dream that was never fully realized, he had a way of making sure he shared his love and knowledge with us. Any time we got a new car, it wasn’t ready to drive until Dad had tuned the stereo. And if you fucked with any of the dials, he would know the next time he got into that car. The guy had an ear unlike anyone I’ve ever known. While I’d like to think that some of this may have rubbed off on me. Those nearest and dearest to me know that I can pick up a baseline in the middle of crowded bar and tell you what song is playing, no matter how much background noise is going on around me. It’s a super power, really; one of many fine qualities that I inherited from my dad.
I put together a Spotify playlist to honor my Dad and am adding to it, as I hear things that remind me of him. It’s a playlist that my sister and I listen to whenever we need to feel his presence; because we know that’s how he lives on through each of us. I’ve chosen to share it with you today and I invite any of you who knew our dad to share a song that reminds you of him. We’ll make sure to add it to the rotation!
My sister and I will spend this anniversary together, as that has become our yearly practice. We’ll make a Dad inspired meal, listen to Dad inspired music and share stories. And while we might not choose to toast him with his drink of choice (because Bacardi Cokes are disgusting), I’m sure we’ll find a suitable substitution.
So cheers to you, Dad. I can’t wait to see you again.