Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Music (03/08/07)
TITLE: Hugging My Dad
By Mark Drinnenberg
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I have many wonderful memories of my dad. I remember us standing in the backyard with a bucket and a coin. He would “throw” the coin over the house, and we would run around to the front yard where he would “catch” the coin in the bucket. It always amazed me. When I got older, I figured out he either had never actually thrown the coin, or he had used two coins. But at the age of five or six, this amazing feat got filed in the “Dad can do anything” folder in my mind.
I can still hear his whistle greeting us every time he came in the front door from work. I can see him sitting in the living room, laughing at all the corny jokes on “Hee Haw.” And I’ll never forget the sick and wounded birds he found along the way and brought home to nurse back to health.
Some of my favorite memories of my dad are the stories he would tell about his life. To this day, I talk with pride about how he dropped out of school in the eighth grade to run away from home and join the Army. He managed to get into the Army by lying about his age. But while I have always been proud of this story, I wasn’t always proud of his eighth grade education. As I grew older and became more educated myself, I often responded to his “uneducated” points of view with a belittling tone of disgust in my voice. He must have felt like an idiot. I ache and cringe to this day over it. I cannot let it go. But it was all part of how I drew somewhat away from him in my later teens and lost some precious time that I wish I could get back.
One of my early memories about my dad is that he loved country music. When I was very young, we had a record player and a handful of country music albums. I remember loving Patsy Cline’s “Walking after Midnight” and Hank Snow’s “Lazy Bones.” As a child, I enjoyed those albums, but as I grew, I started listening to the rock music that my peers liked. Dad’s music was left behind as I moved from The Monkees to Three Dog Night to The Rolling Stones. Music, like so many other things, was something we no longer shared.
When I was in my early twenties, on a lark, I bought a collection of Hank Williams’ greatest hits. Hank was one of my dad’s favorites, and while I had heard his songs sung by other people, I had never actually heard the man himself. From the moment the needle hit the record, I was mesmerized. I fell in love with Hank’s voice and songs and started listening to them all the time. I learned to play them on the guitar and eventually got to where I could sound just like him when singing his songs. Dad liked this.
I eventually drifted away from listening to Hank Williams, though I never stopped liking his music. Along the way, my dad died. And then, eighteen years later, this past Christmas, I put Hank Williams on my Christmas list and received two greatest hits CDs as gifts. Something about the songs seemed different this time around. Hank didn’t sound any different than he had before, but I now felt so emotionally attached to this music. I would play the CDs over and over and could not get enough of them. Then, one day, it dawned on me: when I listen to Hank Williams, I feel like I’m hugging my dad. I don’t know if anybody else can possibly understand that concept, but it’s powerful to me. I know it’s not a real hug. I’m not talking about some metaphysical experience. But emotionally, the music of Hank Williams makes me feel like I’m hugging my dad.
I will see my dad again. I praise God that Dad got saved eight months before he died, and I look forward to our reunion. But in the meantime, I’ll continue to put on “I Can’t Help It If I’m Still in Love with You” and give him a big old hug. It feels good.
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