A Song of Old San Antone
"Deep within my heart lies a melody...."
I miss him still, twenty years after his death, but in a way, he's still around, in the eyes of my children, in the jokes that I tell, in the things I find funny. Oh, and I can prove he is still present in the big decisions I make.
My father was a man bound to his Texas/German heritage. While intelligent (he was a member of Mensa), accomplished (he held several patents), and goofy (he loved to pronounce words as they were spelled, like "skizzers" and "gayze-bo" rather than "scissors" and "gazEbo") you would never see him without his cowboy boots and fancy belt buckle, even when a suit were required. His laugh was as big as the the Texas sky, and when he gave you a hug, you felt the enormity of his spirit to core of your being.
"Well it was there I found, beside the Alamo..."
He had an interesting habit -- he whistled wherever he walked. Yes, you would have thought his feet couldn't work without a good puckered rendition of "San Antonio Rose." "Deep within my heart lies a melody...a song of old San Antone..." If he had far enough to walk, he would transition it over to the tune that goes with "shave and a haircut, six bits!" Fun enough when you're a kid, but as a teenager, I was embarrassed by it on more than one occasion: grocery store, school activities, friends over -- but that was just the way he was. It was a demonstration of his joy in life, and no apologies are ever necessary for that, even to an angst ridden teenager. At least he managed to keep it in check while he walked me down the aisle.
"Where in dreams I live with a memory..."
Never one to bother with doctors, my father died of a heart attack quite suddenly in his 50's. I was a naive, young newlywed at the time, and I had never experienced anything quite so surreal. Honestly, up until that point, I had never imagined life without him. After that, I had dreams where I could hear him talking to me and it would startle me awake. My mother swore she saw glimpses of him in her periphery all the time. My brother sought out a psychic. We prayed. None of us knew how to go on, but we did.
"Lips so sweet and tender, like petals falling apart..."
I don't have words, I dare not feel the regret that my father never held my children in his arms. They would have tickled him to tears, and I know their lives would be richer had they known their Grandpa. So we tell stories, all of us who keep his memory alive, and my dream is that my children will pass those stories on to their children along with the special knife, the treasured photograph, the worn-out slide rule -- all things I cling to, knowing they were special to him.
"For that moonlit pass, that only he would know..."
Years later, my husband and I were in the process of buying a house, in the part of Texas that was my father's favorite place in the world. I thought about him throughout the process, knowing how much he would love the place, out in the country, reminiscent of the rolling hills of Germany. I felt his approval almost, and his pride, knowing he would be so happy for us. But it was the hardest negotiation of our young lives, and I so wished he were there to consult with.
"Broken song, empty words I know..."
We initially connected with a shady lender who promised more than he could deliver, and he ended up taking us for thousands of dollars. We were about to also lose our earnest money on the house and lose our contract that we had painstakingly negotiated with tough sellers who were unwilling to extend if we "couldn't get it together." In the middle of all this fell the anniversary of my father's death, so I drove out to the new place, sat on the back porch, and wondered what he would do in our situation. I had no idea, but I remembered that he had an truthfulness and a calmness to his demeanor that generally carried him through tough times, so I decided to draw on those and not give up.
There was a 72 hour period of chaos, where we somehow, miraculously connected with the best real-estate attorney in the state, sat down and discussed everything with all parties involved, found a new lender that delivered us a loan with great terms in an impressive 24 hours, discovered I was co-signed on a huge sum of money that was in my Mom's money market account (who knew?), and even had a state congressional aide show up on our door step and offer assistance with regard to the shady lender. We closed on the place. We closed? It hadn't seemed possible, but the house was ours, the way it was supposed to be.
"Enchantments strange as the blue up above..."
We spent the night with my mom that night, and my husband was off early the next morning with our car to get things in order. I had to drive my daughter to an activity, so I went out to the garage to pull my Mom's car out to use. No sooner had the engine turned over, I heard a familiar down beat on the radio, followed by Patsy Cline's rich alto..."Deep within my heart lies a melody, a song of old San Antone..."
Yes, I cried. I cried like a baby. Thanks, Dad. I miss you.