There were always so many of us. I was always in the middle. The memories that stuck out the most were the ones where it was just my dad and me. Those were the silly things that stuck in my head, where it struck me that Dad knew that I was there, and I wasn’t just “the other one”.
There was the first time I heard Rubenstein playing Beethoven – and Dad listened with me. He said, “When you can play it like that, I’ll give you $500.00.” I learned it. I never played it even close to Rubenstein, but he gave me $500.00 anyway.
I listened to Horowitz play Chopin. I had the score on the back of the couch and I was kneeling backwards on the couch following the score. Dad came along and knelt next to me.
“Is this the score?”
Then he listened with me silently, as one is supposed to. Horowitz finished playing. He said,
I said, “Yeah.”
It was the Raindrop Prelude. I knew then that I wanted to learn it.
The things that stick in your head are funny things. You run them around in your mind over and over. The times he took you to buy pants. The time he took you to get a suit for your graduation.
There was the time that he took me to San Francisco for a music competition. I was so out of my league. But he never let on that he knew.
Growing up in the 70s, we saw the advent of the Aaron Spelling TV shows, which Dad dubbed “jiggle shows.” We, of course, never watched them. Nor did we listen to that “boop-de-boop” music, whatever that means. He was adamantly opposed to everything rock, disco, pop, or anything that smacked of hippies.
But then there were the hunting trips. Waking up at 4:30, grabbing bags of Snickers and apples, driving in the huge yellow van to some forsaken area. If we had been allowed to watch slasher films, we would have been terrified. Instead, we huddled frozen together in the van, shivering. Eating snickers and apples and listening to “God didn’t make the little green apples, and it don’t rain in Indianapolis in the summer time;” “Just call me angel of the morning, angel;” “One toke over the line,” and “Everything is beautiful.”
To this day, the dulcet alto of Anne Murray brings to the mind the car-sick queasiness, ice cold shivers, the taste of Snickers.
We never even saw anything, much less killed anything. I remember the porcupine in the tree mocking us, until my brothers took the rifle to it.
John Denver and Statler Brothers awaken memories of camping in Southern Oregon.
But greater by far are the hymns that we sung. Christmas is “Brightest and Best of the Sons of the Morning” and “Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates”.
Thanksgiving rings with “We Plow the Fields and Scatter”.
Easter is “Christ the Lord is Ris’n Today” and “Low in the Grave He Lay”.
I still can’t play “Alleluia, Alleluia” without the image of Dad in the pulpit, waving frantically trying to get me to go faster, faster, faster. After 40 years of playing it, I still don’t think I have played it fast enough.
I remember the first bikes for Steve and me. We rode for hours up and down the large property.
But the greatest legacy of my father that he left to me was a share in the kingdom of God. I remember the catechism, the prayers for me, the sermons, the questions answered. He brought the word of Christ into the home and it stuck. And for that, Dad, you have my eternal thanks.
Thank you for your faithfulness, your zeal for the church and your love for Jesus that has infected everyone you have come into contact with.
With love and gratitude,