I come from a musical family. My mother's father and his brother were musicians, composers, and band leaders. They got their start by cutting school, hopping a ferry from Paterson, N.J. across the river (this was before Hudson River bridges), in order to play live jazz on radio in New York City. From this side of the family I developed an appreciation for, and affinity to 1930s and 1940s big band music (my great uncle eventually directed the Benny Goodman band).

My father's side of the family had no musicians that I can recall, but, it was from my father that I learned about music. When I was a child, I remember the LP collection on the bookshelf, and when tapes developed, there were hundreds of them, on to CDs, of which he amassed over 300, and finally, in the digital age, his music library seemed bottomless.

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Depending on his mood, he would play music ranging from Robert Johnson to Johnny Maestro and the Brooklyn Bridge, from Gregorian monk chants to Bach, and our personal favorites to listen to together, the Supremes, the Marvelettes, and Bob Dylan. I can honestly say that watching my father thumb through the CD pages, or scroll on his MP3 player were some of the happiest moments I can remember, he truly loved music. He was not just happy to listen to good music, but he wanted to pass it on, and of course, with the music, came the same stories about each band or musician, which I had heard dozens of times prior, yet I never tired of hearing.



My father moved away as I entered my teenage years. He would drive three hours to pick me up, then we drove three hours back to his home, and do the return trip at the end of the weekend. Over the years, this afforded us about six hours each trip to have some alone time, and without exaggeration, I can remember nothing other than us listening to and discussing music.


My father passed away two years ago.


During my year of aveilut (Jewish mourning for a close relative), I abstained from listening to music. I had not realized exactly how much music was a part of my daily life. I couldn't wait for the year to be over so I could to music again. I had all of the albums I wanted to listen to lined up in my head, first up was Bob Dylan's, The Freewheelin'. As much as I wanted to, I couldn't make it through the first song I put on, "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall". I felt like Alex from Stanley Kubrik's, "A Clockwork Orange" following his treatment. I was physically and emotionally unable to continue to listen to the music that was an energy source in my life and the strongest bond between me and my father.


I'm often asked, "Do you miss your father"? Sure I do, who wouldn't miss their father? But I don't miss him on a daily basis. Other family members miss him on birthdays and holidays, but for some reason, these days don't arouse in me feelings of longing.


Last week, I took my daughter to work, she loves the train and bus. On the bus, the driver was blasting music at 7:45am. As the bus crowded with more passengers, I told my daughter to sit on my lap so someone else could sit down. When we pulled away, a new song began playing, "Handle me With Care", by the Traveling Wilburys, one of my father's favorite bands (for the music and for the story behind the band, especially the singers' aliases). Immediately, I glanced at my smiling daughter, gave her a kiss on her head, stared out the window, and with tears in my eyes I sang quietly. I sang the way my father and I used to in our rides together.


That was the first time in two years I truly missed my father.
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