Music played a special and sometimes complicated part of Dad’s life. In Fergus Falls, Minnesota, Dad enjoyed playing high school football and was good at it. However, his older sister Florence was intent on becoming a concert pianist, so his Mother moved them to Rochester NY for Florence to attend a music school for a year. He easily made the football team in Rochester too, until the coach learned he’d only be there one year. This disruption in his young life was something he spoke of often, wishing his Mother had let him stay in Fergus Falls with his older brother Homer and their grandpa Hale for that year. Nevertheless, he accepted it and tried to focus on the benefits in the experience whenever it came up. Over the years, as it came up again and again, we talked of forgiveness and what could have been.
Although Florence did not reach the heights of fame as a concert pianist she wished for, she did work in music her entire life as a college music professor, organist, and teacher. Mom and Dad sang in the choir in every church they belonged to. Music was always a part of our lives.
Our young family didn’t have a lot of money, but my parents were inventive with what we had. One of my favorite outings and favorite memories was driving around town singing 4-part harmony to songs like “When you wore a tulip” and other classic songs of the day.
When Dad’s hearing started declining, it was music that was the most difficult for him. Melodies were distorted, and he couldn’t be sure he was singing on tune. He continued to sing at church, but no longer as a member of the choir.
After my Mother passed, I moved in to their home to care for him. He kept his songbooks by his favorite chair in the family room and I’d often hear him singing songs to her as he flipped through the pages. And, especially in the final months of his life, if he was feeling down, I’d encourage him to play the piano. He readily agreed, and it always lifted his spirits.
All of this being said, today was another momentous goodbye as his beloved piano was moved out of the house and on to wherever it will go from here. I thank God for music every day, and know that Dad, Mom, Florence, and all the beautiful souls on the other side are singing in harmony forevermore. Life here on Earth moves on. Goodbye piano. I love the gift of music you gave to Dad. Thank you.