My dad sang in a gospel quartet when I was growing up. They formed when I was maybe three years old, and they still sang together until well after I graduated from high school. The last time I remember them singing together, I was in my early 20’s. They split up several times over the years for various reasons. Sometimes it was “creative differences,” meaning that more than likely my father–but not always just him–was being a stubborn S.O.B. When they split up for good, it was simply because their hearts weren’t in it anymore. When my father passed away unexpectedly in 1999, the surviving former members all came to his memorial service to pay their respects. One of them ran in to my ex husband and I one evening at a restaurant a year or two after my father’s death and offered to send me a demo tape they quartet had recorded several years before. I listened to it one time, before I put it into storage, where it–along with most of my belongings at the time–was destroyed by water damage when my storage unit flooded. Hearing my father’s voice on the tape unnerved me too much.
There are certain hymns that if I hear them sung, I hear his voice in my head. “Amazing Grace” and “The Old Rugged Cross,” are the two that really get to me almost twenty years after his passing. The quartet, named The Reflections, did some arrangements that still stick in my head like a weird earwig. I can hear “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” an old negro spiritual, jazzed up a bit like they were in performing in front of me. My dad sang bass, even though he was really a baritone. He could sing alto on some songs, but it was a stretch. Whenever I hear a Capella now, I always harken back to the days when The Reflections used to sing together.
I really miss hearing them.
I realized just how much I miss my dad right around this time of the year, with Father’s Day and my birthday and both of my brothers’ birthdays. I always wonder what he would have thought of Comic-Con and the Dr. Who reboot and even the McGyver and Hawaii 5-0 reboots. There is so much I did not get to share with him, including my “coming out” as being polyamorous and divorcing his business partner, someone who he considered to be another son. In that regard, I am glad he was gone so I could find myself. But I still miss my dad….just because he was my father.
But I think he would be proud of the woman I have become. And I like to think he would sing “The Old Rugged Cross” and “Amazing Grace” with me if he were still here. And that makes me smile.