Words and Music

(6,351 Words)

this is a brief excerpt:


It’s never easy to say goodbye, especially when you didn’t get there in time. Dad was hours away from me and I didn’t have a car and it was the middle of the night when I got word. If it sounds like I’m trying to make myself feel better about not being there by his side, well, you might be right. Or maybe it was just the way things were. Maybe it was a lesson in letting go and doing the best with something that anyone should be expected to do. I’m still working that part out.

Dickie Calais was born in the year when an American president outlined a plan to end war forever and women gained the right to vote. And he was my dad. Of French Norman descent, he grew up in a small farming town in upstate New York playing sandlot baseball, the only son in a family whose other child, a daughter, died when she was seventeen and a father who tried hard to keep a job but wasn’t very good at it. His mother was the real backbone of the family, the glue and the rule maker, the keeper of accounts.

When my dad was ten years old, it became apparent that Dickie not only loved baseball but he loved music, too, and could carry a tune and a beat like nobody’s business. His talent soon came to the attention of his Auntie Wynn while she was visiting the family one lazy August weekend. Wynn was an artist who lived in New York City in a flat in Greenwich Village with her wealthy banker husband. She had a very different kind of life from her older sister, Nettie.

“Well, Dickie, you are quite the little songbird, you are!” Wynn said, listening to dad singing right along with the radio, a radio she had brought as a gift to her sister that year because, of course, only she could afford such a thing as extravagant and impractical as a radio.

“Why, he knows all the words to all the songs, Nettie,” Wynn said to her sister who was sitting on the couch mending a shirt for her husband who was sleeping off a little too much whiskey taken a little too early in the day.

. . . 

© 2020, Mary Corbin

Word and Music is from the “Renderings” collection due for future publication. Featured artwork: “ShakaLakaHoochiKoo” – painting by Mary Corbin. No reprints without permission. 

This story is dedicated to my loving father, may he sing and dance through eternity.

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