About a week ago someone posted something to Facebook that reminded me of something that reminded me of something else that reminded me of my dad. And so I filed away that idea for this post-Father’s Day Rock Out, and moved on to the next thing.
But the reminiscing had begun. Closing my eyes, it is 40 years ago and I am running through the sprinklers on Pammy Blake’s front lawn, playing kickball in the street, laying in the grass in the evening to see if we could catch the moment the street lights turned on.
I have piles of photos of those scenes, all taken by my dad. Photos of us kids with Kool-Aid stands. Photos of us posed on the front steps. Photos and photos and photos…
When I go through those piles of photos, yes there are faces of all the people I grew up with. But the most noticeable thing in that pile is the shot of the Purple Bush – a shrub of undetermined name except that’s what we always called it.
Year after year, my dad photographed that shrub. Year after year, the same purple flowers covered with the same bees, summer after summer after summer, photo upon photo of the very same shot.
Anyone else looking at those piles of photos would think, “Ok, enough – I get it, already. Purple flowers. Can we move on?” But to me those are not photos of flowers; they are snapshots of my dad, a man for whom each encounter with those blossoms left him filled with wonder as if it had been the first time.
“Do you see that purple – how beautiful it is? Do you see the fuzz on the bees? Are they not amazing?” That’s what those photos say to me. And that’s how I remember him.
Which is what came up for me as I started thinking back, after that Facebook post reminded me of things that reminded me of other things.
It reminded me of the music. My dad may have been a Class A classical music snob, but he also had a sense of whimsy. Our house was just as likely to be filled with a Mozart concerto as it was the Flight of the Bumblebee. When we were kids, my brother and I would follow my dad round and round in a circle as the phonograph played the carousel song, dipping up and down as if we were on merry-go-round horses right there in the living room.
Which is what came to mind when someone on Facebook posted a comic video about a typewriter. At the time I shared that we actually have an old IBM Selectric in our office, and that for things like typing file folder labels, I still use it. And that several months ago, 25 year old Nick came round the corner, seeing me typing, and said, “So that’s what that noise is!”
I laughed to think that when I was growing up, who wouldn’t know what that sound was? Which made me think of my dad, and the Typewriter Song…
Back when I was a teenager in the early 1970’s, my dad and I would watch Monty Python together Sunday nights on PBS. Years later in a whole new millennium, when Eric Idle came to Tucson in 2000 to perform, my own daughter was about the age I had been back when the Ministry of Silly Walks was still brand new.
After the show, we waited in line for an autograph, watching as Eric signed each CD and program, barely lifting his head from one person to the next.
At our turn, I told Eric about watching Monty Python with my dad so many years before. “Sounds like a pretty enlightened guy,” he said, still signing. “He was,” I told him. “It’s been almost 20 years, and I still miss him.”
And for the first time in that long line, he lifted his eyes. “I miss mine, too,” he said, and took my hand.
Just like my dad makes me stop and think every time I see little purple flowers or hear the Typewriter Song or ride a carousel, Eric Idle’s dad made him stop being a star and just be a person, even if only for that instant.
All that came back to me last week, when someone posted a silly video about a typewriter. After almost 30 years now, I got to have my dad be top-of-mind for a whole week, as I remembered the things that helped make me who I am.
And so that is what I wish for all of us this week. That we slow down long enough to look up – from signing autographs or from just doing what we do – to remember how precious each and every moment is.
And to remember that with those precious moments, we are indeed creating the future, for ourselves, for each other, and for our world.
Have a great Monday and a great week, all!