I had to get up early this morning to feed my daughter’s dogs; they live just a few miles away. The sun was trying to rise as I drove to get a cup of coffee en route to my destination. A beautiful fall morning.
The sunshine always reminds me of my parents. Maybe that is because of our move to Arizona many years ago . . . and the fact that after I had grown up and moved back to the South I would look to the west, see the sunset, and be reminded that they were 1500 miles away in that direction.
At any rate, I thought of them as I drove this morning. I knew how much they enjoyed the morning sun. And beauty. And I began to recall some of the songs they loved to sing. I sang them faintly to myself as I drove. And I let myself remember.
We were a singing family. Not all families are, of course.
We sang mostly at church, or on long trips in the car. Sometimes at home.
As I slowly sang some of their favorite songs this morning I was struck with a profound notion (which, on reflection, should have been obvious to me, but was not): the lyrics to the songs they loved were deep, rich, and challenging. They spoke of life as it is; unvarnished, mysterious at times, and constantly unfolding in ways we could not have imagined.
I was struck by their profundity.
And I realized that my life (my struggles, failures, triumphs, joys and tears), is no less remarkable than my parents’. They faced the same dilemmas I face; they felt the same triumphs and disasters; they encountered the same demons and had to exorcise them in order to move forward.
I miss them.
They gave me life, a home, a trombone, guitar lessons, encouragement to stay physically fit; they read Winnie the Pooh to me, The Secret Garden; taught me poems (If, The Raven, There Go the Boats); they encouraged me to think for myself. When I was down and out, they encouraged me and stood by me. And I could go on and on.
Out of the depth of their life experience, they imparted life opportunities to me. And I am grateful.
The musical group, Train, sings a song that says the following:
If I go before I say to everyone in my ballet:
“I’d like to take this chance to thank you for the dance.”
If I run out of songs to sing to take your mind off everything,
Just smile, sit a while with the sun on your face, and
Remember the place we met, take a breath and soon I think you’ll see:
Without you I would never be me; you are the leaves of my family tree.
If you knew me from the very start,
Or not at all – you’re still a part;
Just sing together!
It’s the least that I can do.
My final gift to you.
My folks are forever with me. I grieve today . . . with some tears, but also with joy.
And when I sing . . . ah yes, when I sing: I embrace their final gift to me. And my heart is full.