...and they all lived happily ever after...

...and they all lived happily ever after...

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Leader of the Band

This weekend the kids and I were working on dinner together.  We are all music lovers and I threw in this CD which has ALWAYS  (I'm not even exaggerating, I have loved it for as long as I can remember) been one of my favorites.

I love Dan Fogelberg. 
I love his lyric voice and sweet haunting melodies.

Anyway, so we were listening and singing along and there may have been some spontaneous dancing involved but we were loving it.

And then came track #8.  And the same thing happened that almost always happen when I hear that song.  Quiet tears tried to tumble from my eyes (which I fought like the dickens because crying for no reason in the kitchen is silly and will cause kidlets to think you are sad when you really aren't) and I smiled halfway and tilted my head...and I thought of my dad.

The song is "The Leader of the Band" and Dan Fogelberg wrote it for his father who taught him to love music.  As I was listening to different versions of the song on YouTube today I stumbled on a live 2003 video where Mr. Fogelberg said that if he had only been allowed to write one song in his life it would have been this one.

As much as I love his other songs, I couldn't agree more.

My dad was never a band leader.  He didn't teach me to play any instruments, although he always encouraged us to pursue that learning.  But my dad was a lover of music.  From the time I was small I would climb into his lap while we played records (yes records, like the ones made of vinyl) of The Carpenters, Jim Croce (one of Mom's favorites), James Taylor and Alan Parson Project.  I remember one magical ELO album that made you feel like the music was swimming around your head. We couldn't really dance to the songs then because it would make the record skip.  Music was something that lived inside my father and I always felt blessed that he chose to share that with me.

My dad also happens to have a beautiful singing voice and I remember countless times when we were on a family trip that I felt so proud to know the same songs that he did so we could sing along -- in sometimes garbled harmony -- with whatever music was on the radio or the cassette tape at the moment. 

My dad was also not one of those parents to be trapped in music of a lost era.  While he has continued to nurture a love of Abba, The Captain and Tennille and Hall and Oats, he has also grown into a love of Dave Matthews Band and Jason Mraz and Jack Johnson.  He taught me to love good music wherever you can find it (he even likes those Inca pipe flute CD's...ugh).   I remember finding him sitting on the living room couch, head back, eyes closed just feeling every moment of music as it surrounded him. 

Yet, to me, this tender Dan Fogelberg song goes so much deeper than music.  This is a song about the love of a child for his father...and that is where my heart truly gets wrapped around the ballad.

Maybe it is just the way girls are -- I know I see it in my girls -- but my dad is something special to me.  I adore him.  I have from the time I was tiny.  His approval, his attention, his love meant the world to me (no slight on my mother who valiantly attended every clogging performance and volleyball game not to mention patiently teaching me piano and algebra and cooking...my love for her is not lesser, it is just different).  I wanted to be the very best so that he would be proud of me, and few things stung more than his rebuke.

My dad is a good man.  He just is.  He isn't a perfect man, but I am grateful that he is my father.  I am grateful that he was the kind of father who would wrestle with the five of us kids, who insisted that we continue our piano lessons even if he didn't know how to play, who took us fishing and grumpily helped us unsnag countless lines and who let us tag along on trips to BYU football games (even if constant questions from a talkative eleven year old made him nearly crazy).

 He knew about science and history and English (but if you needed math help, you better head for mom).  It seemed like he always had the answer.  I just assumed fathers were supposed to be that way.

He took me on my first date when I turned 16 (that may have been my mom's idea, I'm not sure, but it was still great).  One time he brought balloons to my high school on my birthday and I carried them around all day proudly telling everyone they were from my dad.

In reality, for me, just being around him felt like delight. 

My dad wasn't the kind of guy to say "I love you."  Actually none of us were.  Those words seldom rang out in our house growing up (something my husband and I have adjusted in our home).  We kept our feelings tucked in, in general.  But I knew my dad loved me.  I knew it without a doubt.  I knew it because he let me sink into his lap while we watched TV, because he taught me how to compose a proper sentence, because he said "nice job" when I'd show him my latest composition and because he shared with me his testimony of the gospel. 

But it doesn't stop there.  Now I get to watch this man that I call Father step into the roll of Grandpa and I am loving him all over again.  He teaches these little ones how to laugh and have fun and nobody loves holding newborns more than Dad does.  When you watch him with a tiny baby in his arms, fresh from Heaven, you can see how he gets lost in them.  He seems to forget the rest of the world as he chats it up with a person who can't even talk back yet. 

But it isn't really so much about the things that he did, it is more about the hero he has been for me.  I always knew I could come to him with a problem and he would help me solve it.  He is still one of my favorite people to talk to.  I grew up wanting to marry someone just like him (and in many ways I did).  I always wanted my dad to smile when he saw the person that I had grown into.  He made me want to be a better person.

I wish I could put down on paper the blessing that this man has been in my life.  These words seem too hollow; they simply fall short.  He has been with me since I came into this world and I can't imagine having to make this journey without him.  He helps me stay focused.  He helps me stay grounded.  He's my dad, and I'll forever be grateful for that. 

I guess it's just like Dan Fogelberg said, "Papa, I don't think I said I love you near enough."

I love you Daddy.


CurtisnSuzy Barth said...

Melissa, I had a terrible time reading this as I had to stop several times to wipe away my tears. What a heart felt testimony of your love for your father. What a special daughter you are.

I have very few regrets in my life, but one that touches me deeply and closely is that I never got to say things like this to my dad while he was alive. I believe that he knows how I feel now, and I look forward to embracing him and telling him face to face that I understand and love him. I don't share all of the special memories of my dad the way that you do... you see, I misunderstood him. I always thought that he was mad at me or something, and I don't ever remember saying that he loved me. It wasn't until I was a father myself that I understood his love for me. He wasn't mad at me, he wanted the best for me, and drove me to do well, and grow strong and smart. Looking back, I couldn't have asked for a better dad either. My parents were at all of my high school sporting events, we went fishing together often, worked together well, played horseshoes regularly, and he taught me many, many valuable life lessons for which I will always be grateful.

It is great that you are able to share your love for your dad, and you are so blessed to have him in your life, it is evident.

Thank you for sharing this tender thought with us all.


Lorna said...

Thanks for sharing such wonderful words about your father....my brother. I have to agree he is a pretty special person. The person I knew growing up and have gotten to know a little as an adult is a person just as you discribed. As a big brother he always tried to look out for his siblings, he always tried to keep the peace...which was not easy by the way...he was always someone you knew you could trust. I love my big brother very much and I am so glad I got to see him and visit with him this last weekend. You do have a very good father and I am glad that he was blessed with such a sweet loving daughter and some great sons :)

Love you Aunt Lorna

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