Wednesday, January 1, 2014


“The night was kind of dark so you could hardly see, 
and the moon began to shine. . .”
my father’s brow always furrowed as he carefully placed his large
well-manicured masculine fingers on the strings of his Martin guitar
and sang the verse, his head cocked slightly and his blue eyes closed.
I sat and waited my turn to join in the chorus
“Shine on, shine on harvest moon, up in the sky
I ain’t had no lovin’ since January, February, June or July.”
I didn’t know what the lyrics meant; I just sang them.
We sang, “Daddy’s Little Girl,” “True Love,” “Till We Meet Again,” “Shanty Town.”
I remember the part of “Shanty Town” that I sang “a reed a ridin’ on the wall” was actually “read the writin’ on the wall.” I just sang the sound; the words weren’t important.
I sat next to him on the big piano bench from the time I was three years old.
Sixty years later, I was still by his side at the piano.
We sang for his friends, for my grandmother and for each other.
I recall my grandmother sitting in her chair years before, tears running down her cheeks.
Years later, when I played those same songs for my father, her tears became his as he 
listened proudly.
Our songs were a place I could be with him that no one else could go. 
Our voices blended perfectly.
His deep baritone voice with the innocence of my little girl voice that became a teen voice and then a mother’s voice were a narrative of our bond. 
We sang his old standard pop tunes from the thirties and forties:
Blue Moon, Sentimental Journey, Bye Bye Blackbird, Winter Wonderland.
These were the songs I learned to play on the piano--
the melodies that earned my salary as a cocktail pianist 
the lyrics that make his absence painful.
When we sat on the swing at the old folks home
he wasn’t sure he knew who I was, but he remembered
all the words and “his part.” 
We sang for hours, swinging slowly, holding hands, looking at the sky.
I sang to him as he took his last breath, and I know he was singing his part, but
I could no longer hear it.