He picked the Wildwood Flower and the Orange Blossom Special when I was a kid. Mom says that when dad used to play, I would kick up a fuss while in my crib. I would do this until he put the old Gibson Jumbo guitar away. Growing older, I used to love it when dad played music in the house. He bought all the picking records he could find, and just as he taught himself to play guitar, he taught himself to pick out the tunes as well.
Years working, everything from a logger to a construction worker has all but ended his guitar playing. His fingers, twisted and gnarled from the abuse hard work tolls on a person can no longer move fast enough for him to play the way that he used to. The guitar that provided so many great times for family and friends now collects dust from hanging on the wall, a memory from the days that my dad made the strings ring to the hits of yesterday.
Dad always sang while he played. His voice today is still as soft as it was back then, but he rarely sings anymore. Since he can no longer play the guitar, it is almost as if he hurts too much to sing.
He doesn’t talk much about playing anymore. Just the other day my son asked if he would play him a tune. My dad quickly changed the subject and offered him candy instead.
Often I feel selfish. Here I am with long slender fingers that are capable of typing over 70 words per minute on my computer, but yet I lack the skills to play his guitar. I wish for one moment I could offer the speed and limber of my fingers to my dad so that once again, he could play his heart out on the guitar. This is but a wish however, because knowing my dad and the kindness that his heart holds, he wouldn’t allow such a thing to happen, not even for one minute.
I guess I am fortunate to have the memories of my dad’s tunes. As I sit here, my eyes closed, I am taken back to a time when I was but a wee child. My dad is sitting on the couch, the body of his jumbo guitar resting on one knee. His fingers work the strings like an expert, and the beautiful melody that is emitted from his instrument eases everything around me. Thanks for the music Dad.