20 dollars

When I was ten, my dad bribed me with $20 to learn to play the song Going Home on the piano. To play at his funeral. hmmm. I was ten, and it was $20; I didn't think about the dismal...ness of it at the time.

In fact, I don't often focus on the premise of my relationship with that song at all, because you just don't. Think about that. Until the challenge you gave yourself to record more memories of your childhood collides with the writing contest you like to use as an outlet of thought, that happens to be themed "Going Home" this month. I keep trying to forget about it...because I don't want to write about it. It's depressing. Not considered a "good read". But I had some moments of solitude, and that's when I started thinking more about my dad's song.

He's very sentimental.

I practiced that song with all the trip-to-the-mall anticipation I could muster; I remember clearly; I wanted a Swatch watch. The tune is carved permanently into the creative half of my brain. It finds its way out, and I hum it to myself. It makes me think about dad and well...home.

We moved around a bit, so there really isn't a place I justifiably call Home. Briarwood Place comes close. Colorado was good to me. I'm Canadian, so I guess I can count a country. Waterton, Chief Mountain, Dinosaur Ridge. Those are comfortable, and evoke familiarity. That's homeish, right? I equate the coveted title Home with the place I return to, where my most favorite memories wait for me, where comfort greets me, and where the people I love expect me.

His song makes sense then.

Going home, going home
I'm just going home
Quiet light, some still day
I'm just going home.

It's not far, just close by
Through an open door
Work all done, care laid by
Going to fear no more

Mother's there expecting me
Father's waiting, too
Lots of folk gathered there
All the friends I knew...

I gave my dad his $20 back when I was in college. I told him I appreciated his economic motivation techniques, but I'd rather not put that task in my bag of to-think-abouts. Of course, he stuck it back in my pocket and told me he loved me. I could give him his money back when he's home, he said.

Dad's retired now, lives in the naked countryside, and wakes up in the morning to manage his health and his thoughts. I wonder if he's thought about his song.

I hope not.

I'd like to hold onto my 20 dollars.


Unknown said...

ooo..love it cally. I have been trying to come up with something for that writing contest...never have been too inspired.

I LOVE THIS so much that I am grateful that you have given me sufficient reason to quit trying.

Scribbit said...

That really painted your relationship with your father well. I think I'd like him after reading that.

ShEiLa said...

Awesome! I remember this song... it was sung at my Grandma Charma's funeral. (December 17, 1920-October 3, 2005) I love your
YouTube video.(beautiful voices). Another something caught my eye though...[Waterton, Chief Mountain, Dinosaur Ridge.] Where did you live in Canada? My husband grew up in Cardston, we have family in Raymond... My oldest daughter Celestial was born in Cardston, I love the Prince of Whales Hotel in Waterton National Park. At times like this you break out singing, It's a small, small world. Thanks for stirring the memories. toodles, Sheila (I would like to hear your answers. My e.mail is nevada_kings@hotmail.com)

Mia said...

This was such a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing this memory of your childhood and your father.

Ryan said...

I love writing that ends well, and this ended really well. It's amazing how the phrase "I'd like to hold on to my 20 dollars" has a whole new level of meaning to it at the end. Very touching.