I have always been fascinated by how brilliantly the human brain connects our senses with memories–most especially sounds and music. With music being one of the grounding blocks for my life, I have a figurative soundtrack of memories in my head to recall the experiences I have had, and I love how just one note from a familiar song can cue up that playlist.
My Daddy and I shared a common love of music–most specifically rock and roll. I grew up with the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, The Who, Pink Floyd–all the greats- and Daddy and I both liked our music loud. Nearly every memory I have of my father has music playing in the background, but there is one in particular that means the most to me…
Saturdays were for house cleaning, and as a 10 year old tomboy living in the country, scrubbing was the last thing I wanted to do on a sunny afternoon. My Daddy knew this all too well and would occasionally interrupt my cleaning (after I had given good effort to the chores inside) with the excuse that he needed my help outside with some “project.” On one particular Saturday the project was washing the truck, which was one of my favorite things to help him with, and I remember rushing outside as fast as I could.
“Get in the truck,” he said.
“But I thought we were gonna wash it?” I yelled out.
“Just get in the truck,” he hollered back. So I jumped in without further question, wondering what in the world we were really going to do.
He drove down the gravel hill to the road and then to the creek on the other side, where he plomped that big ole Chevy right in the middle of the running water. The water was probably no more than a couple feet high at its peaks and fairly cold for a summer day, but to a 10 year old short girl, it was impressive. My daddy parked the truck in one of the more shallow areas and let me out. He then turned on the radio (nice and loud) to our favorite rock station and got out to wash the truck. We must have spent 2 hours there getting that truck clean, although my daddy did most of the work. While I did a few things to help my dad, I spent most of my time splashing in the water, digging up rocks, and playing with turtles and frogs. Daddy got on to me for playing with them–something about getting warts or being bitten, but I kept on anyways and he eventually quit trying to stop me. Daddy liked seeing his little girl have fun and get dirty–in fact he relished in letting me get dirty and then laughing hysterically when my mother would get upset at the sight of my filth.
Don McLean had a popular song out at this time called “American Pie,” and while Daddy and I were in that creek washing that old Chevy, it came on. We both sang out loudly and without a care in the world. When I asked him later why we went to the creek to wash the truck he simply replied, “Why not?”
Three years ago this past weekend my daddy passed away, and while it was expected it was nonetheless devastating and heartbreaking. He was a rock for me and my family, and we all miss him dearly.
Today while driving home from work, “American Pie” came on the radio, and the soundtrack of memories flooded into my brain. In one moment I was instantly transported back 35 years and 2,500 miles–from the suburbs of Seattle to the backwoods of Middle Tennessee. I could feel the mud all over my skin again. I could taste the cold, fresh water. I could see the beautifully green trees and bushes. And lastly…
I could hear my Daddy singing along with me to that song.
I have always been fascinated by how brilliantly the human brain connects our senses with memories–most especially sounds and music.
I did not cry this weekend on the anniversary of my father’s passing, but today on my way home, the song on the radio made me break down in tears. They were not tears of sadness. They were in fact, tears of happiness. I am so happy to have been blessed with a father who spent time with me and loved me dearly and unconditionally. A father who loved his family and community with all he had. A father who worked hard every day to provide for that family. A father who gave me many great memories. One who took the time in life to say, “Why not?”
Thank you, Daddy, for, well…everything…
Here’s a link to “American Pie” by Don McLean–enjoy