Monday, October 9, 2006


My dad is secretly one of those experience-life-through-music people. Ma's pretty open about it - she sings along with the radio all the time and once fronted a Janis Joplin cover band called J.C. and the Disciples (...I shit you not.), but you kind of have to catch Dad downloading Napster when it first came out or stealing your Ace of Base CD to even suspect that he might be the musically inclined type. He and Ma used to have a record store in Gettysburg, called Square Records and marked by a really cool carved wood sign that's still in the basement at their house. Again, you start to suspect, but you never know until he emails you a song at work or you somehow stumble into a conversation about it.

Since I was really into music in high school, he heard me sing a LOT of stuff. Choral pieces, small groups, solo....classical, pop, jazz. One song that he really loved was "Seasons of Love" from Rent, which I sang at the Quabbin Music Festival in my...junior (?) year of high school. It was one of the few he mentioned to me specifically, rather than sticking to an overall "that was great" type remark. I really loved it too, as overused and overdone as it has become, mostly because I could really uncork it on the tune, but the whole concept is wonderful and meaningful.

Grandad died this Friday, peacefully and surrounded by family, and I find myself thinking again of "Seasons of Love" and the question it poses - "how can you measure the life of a woman or a man?" You realize, as you start losing friends and family, that you really can only know the tip of the iceberg for the vast majority of people, especially those who live far away and are older than you are. There just isn't enough time in holiday visits and phone calls to really hear about every detail and every moment of every life. So we rely on clues from what we do know to make our determinations about the people we love, extrapolating a love of baseball into a mind for detail and a deep nostalgic tendency, a life in the Navy to patriotism and selflessness, a life spent travelling to a sense of adventure and an open worldview.

I'm glad I got to see him before he went.

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