A friend was saying yesterday that she had to get out and buy a Father’s Day gift to get in the mail. I don’t have that task; my dad died in 2008.
If I was sending a gift to him, I would choose music. He loved music and shared his love of many types of music with his family. As a small child I remember him bringing reel to reel tapes home. Many nights I would fall asleep hearing music playing in the house. We listened to folk, learning the songs of Peter, Paul, and Mary; the Seekers; The Brothers Four; The Kingston Trio. We learned the words and tunes of movie musicals: My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music, Fiddler on the Roof, Funny Girl. He loved bluegrass and country music. I grew up on Johnny Cash, Johnny Horton, Charley Pride, Marty Robbins. He introduced me to Ricky Skaggs and the music of Alison Krauss.
Car trips always included favorite music, and many songs are ingrained in my brain from listening to the same tapes over and over again. It didn’t matter if the music was cutting edge or not. It was family music, part of the personal library of favorites that were always popular, whether new or something from my dad’s youth.
Over the years, music was my most frequent gift to him, because I knew it would never be a wrong choice. Once, when he and my mom visited us in Colorado, I got tickets to an Alison Krauss concert at Red Rocks, the amazing outdoor amphitheater at the edge of the front range foothills. We enjoyed a beautiful evening under the stars, listening to wonderful performers share their art. It’s something I’m glad I did with him, for him.
I saw my dad connect with others through music. Besides our immediate family, he and his youngest brother enjoyed a lot of the same artists, and I heard many conversations between them about favorite tunes. He also shared personal favorites with friends. It was a bonding tool for him, but one that he used out of pure pleasure, not for any other type of gain.
I love music too, and although I’m not always up to date, when I find something new, I want to share it. I mention a song or artist to my husband, to my kids, put something on my blog, find the song on Pandora. But there is a part of me that always wants to call up my dad, to say, I found something beautiful, you have to hear it. I find myself wishing I could share with him, my first music buddy. Sometimes, even yet, I can’t believe that it’s not possible to do that.
My dad shared many things with many people: his faith, his love of beauty, his love of flowers; his interest in history and national parks. If I had to say that any one thing defined him, I would say it was his faith. But a close second would be his life-long love of music, and that was a gift I could sometimes give back to him.
Thank you, Daddy, for giving to me. Thank you for creating the desire to give back, to share.
Happy Father’s Day, 2011.
J.C. Choate, 1932 ~ 2008