(Part three of my exploration of the 25 songs in
25 slightly-more days blogging challenge — a way to bank and pre-schedule a few posts for JALC while I’m off a-travelling.) Day Song 3: A song that reminds you of one or both of your parents
Obviously, both of my parents were part of the story back for Song #1 when I was discussing ABBA. But let’s be real: even though ABBA was on the list of music we all could tolerate, between my two parents, my mom was much more of an ABBA fan than my dad was.
Dad was a Neil Diamond fan. And his favorite of all of Neil’s songs was Forever in Blue Jeans:
But it don’t sing and dance
And it don’t walk
And long as I can have you
Here with me, I’d much rather be
Forever in blue jeans
But it ain’t nothin’ next to baby’s treat
And if you pardon me
I’d like to say
We’ll do okay
Forever in blue jeans
There’s lots of ways Dad was the example of that old Horatio Alger ideal. He grew up in a Pennsylvania steel town; both his parents died before he was out of high school, so he went into the Air Force and then used his GI Bill benefits to get the college degree that helped him start the business career that would (pretty quickly) allow Mom, my sister and me to live in the comfort and middle-class privilege that I remember from my childhood.
There was one time when I was a little girl that he first shared a compliment with me — with all of us? I can’t quite recall. A co-worker or a boss had said something to him about how he “was as comfortable with a Big Mac as a filet mignon.” That praise meant a lot to Dad. I think it told him he’d managed to “better himself”* without becoming a snob.
And even though I’ve taking things in a much more intellectual and politicized direction, I wonder about the ways that my desire for social justice, and my ongoing practice in unpacking and understanding my privilege is a different flavor of that ideal. From a spiritual perspective, I wonder about the links between Dad’s (admittedly imperfect) egalitarianism and my desire to find compassion within myself for people and my (hugely imperfect) practice towards the sort of acceptance that would allow me to open-heartedly “meet folks where they are.”
Maybe those are stretched connections. Maybe not.
What I know for sure: I still smile and think of Dad whenever I hear a Neil Diamond song.** And since this summer trip is an itinerary he wanted to bring the family on — we just didn’t have the chance to do it before he died — I might just be thinking of Dad a lot during this stretch of days.
Maybe I’ll load a Neil Diamond playlist on the iPod before I go.
* I know, I know: that’s an incredibly loaded and problematic way to put it. But I do think it kinda captured his perspective on the distinction between his childhood experiences and the middle-class life he was able to build for us.
** Except when I’m tearing up. Even five years later, grief can be a tricky tricky thing.
Image credit: http://fashiontribes.typepad.com/main/2007/06/forever_in_blue.html