Turn down that music…


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My father didn’t listen to music often. We had a hifi in the living room that was used most often for mom to play records on (not very often though) or to listen to IU ball games. We had season tickets but we listened to the ball games when they were away. My dad wasn’t however fond either of the volume or of the type of music I listened to. Dad didn’t listen to radio in the car often. He liked to sing the various songs I’ve mentioned before (Detour there’s a muddy road ahead. And his other favorite Over there.) Dad would walk to the door of my room (door shut of course) and say turn down that radio!!!!

There are two dad music stories I most recall. The first is my 11th birthday on the way to Thailand dad and mom gave me a shortwave radio. Why do I love music so much? That radio in Thailand connected me to Armed Forces Radio out of Saigon. I could listen to Neil Young, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and other great songs played out of Saigon. For me that was a connection back to the world. At times my dad would borrow the radio to listen to the news as well.

One day my father who didn’t often listen to music asked me if I had a Harry Chapin album. It was Living Room Suite. I didn’t at the time have that album so I asked him why. He said I should listen to the song Flowers Are Red. So I got the album (and played it for him as well). That song impacted me as a developing teacher (I was still at IU at the time we had the initial conversation). I wanted to become a teacher like my father and be open to new and exciting ideas.

I did manage to be a teacher for 7 years. Every year I was a teacher I could feel my father’s guidance. I did science as part of reading, math and social studies. I launched rockets into the air with 2nd graders. We tested the impact of acid rain. We gathered all the garbage around the School and turned our display window into a trash can for Earth Day. 1 day’s worth of garbage we collected form around the school it filled the entire display window. I remember telling dad and showing him the pictures. why? It meant something when he smiled at me. He did so many times in my life, smile at me and each one remains special. I never had the passion for teaching my father had. I was a good teacher but my calling was technology.

That is the greatest gift a father can give a son. Releasing him from the expectations of the past. Releasing him from the desire we all have that our children will follow in our footsteps. When I left education my dad hugged me and was happy I had moved towards my passion.

My mother has a sense of humor that many people never see. Mostly because she is very careful about when and where she lays out a zinger. Its one of those situations where once she has you in the web you are done. I can’t tell you how many times I fell pray to that sense of humor. Of course mom will deny that completely. But I know its there. I keep watching now – I am not going to be gotten as easily mom.

.your loving son

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