My dad died earlier this morning, probably between 4:30 and 6:30am. My sister told me to call her around 11am as it was urgent. As soon as I saw the message, I knew someone died.
Not much details are known yet… although he was vomiting Saturday night, and assumed he just had a stomach bug or food poisoning. He went to sleep, woke up, didn’t make coffee as his stomach was still upset, I suppose, and hung out in the garage, smoking a cigarette and watching TV out there (this was his favorite place, at least since 1994). A couple hours later my mom found his body on the ground. His eyeglasses slid across the garage floor and there was no sign of blood or trauma. He probably had a heart attack and went quickly.
My dad picked a good day to shuffle off this mortal coil: February 3rd. It’s the 60th anniversary of the Day The Music Died (February 3rd, 1959). My dad had always loved doo-wop/50s/60s music, and of course, Buddy Holly. He would make countless mixtapes of the Doctor Doo Wop syndicated radio show, for as long as I can remember (at least from the mid-90s onward). One night I was listening to Mazzy Star’s album with “I’m Sailin'” on it. I had the album on repeat. I woke up early, still listening to it… and my dad was up as he usually woke up around 4am every day. He asked me about it and asked me to put “I’m Sailin'” on repeat, on a mixtape, for him… back to back, both sides (or at least, 5 times per side). I did. It was 1997 or so. He appreciated good music. From any decade. But “I’m Sailin'” certainly had a classic sound to it. Any Mazzy Star fan would agree.
So, my dad died today, February 3rd. Anyone who knows their music history knows that Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper all died in a plane crash just after midnight, on February 3rd. The Day The Music Died.
This whole day has been weird. Too weird. I did a couple lessons at the school, then a couple at home. And then I just needed to lie down as my head hurt and I was burned out. Plus, my knee got fucked up a few days ago somehow and it hurts badly. I had it propped up on a pillow in bed. I watched You’ve Got Mail and cried a little bit, as I had done off and on all day.
I just don’t know what to think or how to process this.
He was a great, very likable guy. My entire extended family loved him. “Your dad is the fucking coolest, man. No one is more down-to-earth, smart, and cool than your dad.” I get my calm, patient demeanor from him. Not my mom. I get my intense and interested listening skills from him.
My dad would listen better than anyone. He would get all wide-eyed and intense, staring at whoever was talking to him. Fully and completely interested, and with absolute care and interest. I don’t know how else to explain it. He would patiently listen, and continue listening. When it was his time to speak, he would say little, but always the right thing.
My cousin Steve said “they don’t make em like him, anymore. He was oldschool.” Yeah. He was. He was a good guy. He worked hard his entire life. Luckily he was able to enjoy retirement for a few years. My sister told me he watched King Of The Hill (the Mike Judge cartoon), drinking beer with neighbor friends. He would go fishing and bowling and anything else retired dads/granddads do. My sister even told me he started to play golf a bit, recently. He had my sister’s kids over once a week to eat and hang out with Grandma and Grandpa.
I think my sister even told me he learned how to bake… like pies and sweet potato pie and stuff, in recent months.
I’m heartbroken. I wanted him to live until he was at least 85. He died before the age of 75. I can’t remember if he was born in 1944 or 1945… I want to say he was 74. I don’t know, though. I’m bad with birthdays and birth years.
My dad loved jalapeno peppers and regular, plain oatmeal cookies (soft, I believe, but would also partake in the hard ones). I’m currently eating some soft oatmeal cookies (store bought by someone close to me, Archway brand). I wish he could join me in enjoying these, with my glass of coconut almond milk.
My dad wasn’t a movie guy. I don’t know how or from where I got so into movies and music. But my dad wasn’t a movie guy. Except for American Hot Wax. As rare as that film has always been (I’ve still only seen like 10 minutes of it), my dad happened to catch it on cable one night in the 80s or something, and recorded it with the VCR. That was his all-time favorite movie. Partly because it was the story of Alan Freed, and the birth of rock and roll radio, and his pure love for doo wop and the very first popular rock music.
I wanted him to see Elizabethtown…. which is in my top 5 favorite movies, ever. May be THE favorite. But I didn’t ever tell him about it. Or maybe I did, in an email to him. I don’t know. But that film means a lot to me, and even more so, now that he’s gone. It’s almost like I will actually have a chance to take a proper road trip with him, just like the movie. I’d love for someone to make me a perfect road trip mix CD series, though, like Kirsten Dunst graciously gives Orlando Bloom. Sigh.
Fuck man. This day is weird.
My dad never really followed or was interested in any of my music. I did show him the stuff I’ve done with Patrick, as it’s pretty nostalgic/1950s-sounding. I think he liked it. But beyond that, he didn’t care nor follow anything I did.
My dad never saw the test copies of the songwriting book I am still writing. I took a break from it since the summer. I was going to send him a copy. I never did. Not that he ever would understand the songwriting or music theory information contained therein, but he might have appreciated the work I put into it.
It’s still hard to believe my dad died. I don’t know how to process any of this, let alone most things in my life over the past few years. I just take things day by day.
I’m working 7 days a week again. Trying to catch up on bills. I wear out my voice, teaching lessons. My singing voice has suffered for months. I can’t really sing much at all these days. It’s completely weak. And then, whatever the hell is going on with my left knee….
I would have loved it if my dad saw Trump’s approval rating sink further down the toilet, and watch him lose the 2020 election, and/or resign or get impeached. I would have loved for my dad to have seen that (when it happens).
I would have loved it if my dad saw me accomplish a little more, in my life. I’ve done a lot, but haven’t reached my big goals, yet. I wanted him to see me do more.
I’m wearing the same shirt I wore when I finished the Six Feet Under series finale. It’s my Princeton Record Exchange blue t-shirt. I wore it as I watched everyone die in the future, on Six Feet Under. I wore this shirt when I received news that my dad died.
Sometimes I never know what to say. So I don’t say anything. I used to feel like what I shared online was important/funny/informative… I stopped actively sharing/writing years and years ago (probably right around when Myspace died, and when Facebook became the norm– literally 10 years ago).
I don’t think many people will even read this. If you do, thanks. If you don’t, that’s cool, too.
Ferris Bueller once said
Life moves pretty fast.
If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
Love you, dad. Miss you. Hope you’re enjoying the personal concert from Buddy, Ritchie, and J.P.
And I hope you’re having a cool chat with Bill Hicks and George Carlin, about the insanity we’ve been dealing with, since they left. Say hello to them for me.
What a weird day.