Playing His Song, Father’s Day

It seems only a short while ago when I wrote this column.  My father lived another three years.

To all the fathers out there and to the friends who lost theirs, I will play you a few songs.  My father knew these by heart, the notes and the chords and the lyrics.  He played by ear and he could pick ’em, strum ’em, and sing ’em.

Playing “Whistling Gypsy Rover”

 

So here’s to the music, Dear Ol’ Dad.  Some favorites:

  • A Boy Named Sue
  • The Green Green Grass of Home
  • Me and Bobby McGee
  • Under the Double Eagle
  • Whistling Gypsy Rover
  • Wildwood Flower

 

 Playing His Song

Published:  Jun 18, 2006   Father’s Day         Tampa Tribune

 

“See the streaks?” my father asked, pointing at the window. “Do it again.”

I protested since I had ‘cleaned’ half the windows in the house already. He showed me how to buff the window and I did it right the next time, having learned a tough lesson as a young child.

Father assigned chores around the house and we worked at the family business.  My brother and I worked summers there full time and every weekend of our young lives since I can remember.

One summer I got hooked on the soap opera, Santa Barbara.  My father turned off the TV.  “You’re not going to watch TV all summer.  You can sit here and watch people live.  Or, you can get up and live.”

He had similar expectations for school and everything else:  get good grades, work hard and pay attention.  We knew early on that we’d better figure out a way to pay for college. That was our burden, not his.  We both earned full scholarships to college.

Looking back I’m grateful for that.  His tough love and work ethic taught me a lot about independence.

But, Dad wasn’t all work.  He read to us often, even in high school, from Kipling to the Psalms and his own stories.  Other times, he’d sing old folk tunes playing his guitar at bedtime.  We fell asleep with the lyrics and characters in our heads.

In the morning, he’d ask “What’s the importance of today, March 15th?”  We didn’t know so he’d tell us, “It’s the Ides of March, Julius Caesar’s fateful day.”

He showed us there was so much to know about the world.

I took my oldest daughter to visit my parents recently.  Exploring the house, she observed, “Grandpa has shelves with three guitars on them.”  A Martin, Gretsch and Gibson Les Paul filled those old cases.

“Yes, “ I said.  “Grandpa’s played guitar all his life and he played throughout my childhood, just like I play piano for you. But grandpa doesn’t play anymore.”

My father’s in his 70s.   His medication affects his memory and he’s lost a lot of his balance so he stopped driving this year. He’s packed away the books from his life and travels; now dust covers the empty bookshelves in his office.  But he works on jigsaws and reads the new books that I send.

I went over to the old Kimball upright I learned on as a child.  I marveled at how much of him I’ve become as I played tunes for my Dad.   Songs he once played for me.

 

 

 

Jun 14, 2014

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

About the Author

Mylinh Shattan is a writer who has lived on three continents, served in the Army, worked in corporate America, and taught in college. She loves adventures, in the world and in the mind. Literature is relevant and learning is a lifelong pursuit, so you might as well have a bit of fun along the way.

Stay Up to Date

Become a better reader and writer today and try the TreeHouseLetter for free. Always learning with a bit of fun.

Latest Posts

“Good Luck and Smooth Sailing” in the Year of the Cat

3 min read Lunar New Year Vietnamese Zodiac, Cat vs Rabbit Year 2023 Writing tip, lyrics, backstory on Al Stewart's hit song * AVAILABLE ON PODCAST on SPOTIFY * Chúc mừng năm mới 2023!! Happy Lunar New Year! * It's the Year of the Water Cat according to Vietnamese...

New Year, New Habits: THL on Instagram

2 min read Writing community Marketing platform 4 Instagram posts * It's a New Year with new habits: I am on Instagram! I know, it's hard to contain the excitement but please take a minute to check the posts below before you click over. They are drawn from...

How to Capture a Life in 400 Words

3 Min read The Obituary AVAILABLE ON PODCAST Spotify iTunes * Writing an obiturary is a sobering task. I'm not sure if it is harder to write one for someone you know, because I haven't had to do that. My husband wrote his parents' obituaries and my father had written...

Punch In, Punch Out: the Profession and the Side Hustle

3 Min read 1 Book rec Writing Originality and Passion AVAILABLE ON PODCAST Spotify iTunes * So you want to write? Do you like words? I finished reading Murakami's book Novelist as a Vocation which was published in 2015 and translated to the English in 2022. As of the...

“Pithy and Practical” – Time in Memoir

4 Min Read Time as a Literary Element The Divided Self Christmas and the Solstice Readers Call to Action AVAILABLE IN PODCAST Spotify iTunes * Not to toot my own horn, but I'll let my cousin do so. She wrote in her Christmas card that she loved the TreeHouseLetter...

Which Part of Speech Makes Up Most of the English Language?

4 Min read Toolbox, Parts of Speech 1 Book rec, grammar guide Word nerd alert Ages 9 to 99 * Let's talk about the parts of speech. As for the seven words in that sentence, the first two-- let's talk--are a sort of conundrum. They're not spoken at all, though I am...

Giving Thanks for Dissent and Cookies

3 Min read True Story On Gratitude and Dissent 1 Cookbook rec AVAILABLE IN PODCAST SPOTIFY APPLE PODCASTS * Giving thanks this time of year is a practice in gratitude. Gratitude is vogue, hip, lit. It's handy and eternal, an ever-ready virtue, making an appearance at...

Topics

Become a better reader and writer today and try the TreeHouseLetter for free. Always learning with a bit of fun.