Friday, March 5, 2010

"Poor Johnny One-Note"

March 5 was my dad's birthday; he would be 91 today.  He died so long ago now, that I can't even conceive how he would look as a truly old man!  It's been 31 years!  There's so much that he missed! 

This is a picture of my dad and Little Sis when she was about a year old or so.   (Wasn't  she cute?? Wasn't he???)

He didn't see Little Sis graduate from college or get married.  He never met her ex-husband.  (No great loss there!)  He never met her two children or watched them grow up.  He never saw me on stage in a play.  He never heard the trio I sang with for ten years(which he would have flat-out loved!)  He didn't see Ratchlet grow up, go to college and grad school, and get married.  He never knew what a wonderful person she turned out to be.  He never met his miracle great granddaughter, Maddie-the-Great!  He never knew that his wife (my mother) was a widow and lived alone for for over 20 years after he was gone!

He missed an enormous part of my mom's, my sister's and my lives; and there was so much that he would have loved.  And we would have loved sharing all those things with him too. It wasn't his choice, of course, we understand that.  Nevertheless, it was not to be and now all we have are memories. 

For instance, the little post below, about tone-deaf elephants.... that brings back a memory about my dad and music. 

You first should know that everyone in my mom's family could sing.  A big family in the Depression didn't have much outside entertainment, so they entertained themselves, singing together around the radio, or while doing the dishes and chores.  Pop songs were a big part of their lives.  My mom passed that love of singing to both Little Sis and I.  The Big Guy and I met in the college choir, so he could sing too and much later that ability to sing went on down to Ratchlet and M-t-G.  If we are in the car on a road trip, sooner or later we start to sing.  Its great fun.  And we do sound pretty good too!  We even do harmony!  It's kind of a family tradition!

When I was a little girl (even before Little Sis was born), we had to drive a minimum of 50 miles or more to get to a larger town where we could go shopping for whatever we needed, like clothes or Christmas presents and so on.  So we would get in the car with Daddy driving and head off to West Palm Beach or Tampa or Orlando several times a year.  And on every single trip we sang going and coming back.  And after L.S. was old enough she would join us. 

Now have you noticed that there is one name missing from those stories of singing???  My dad.  Dad could whistle in tune, he had a good sense of rythmn, he could dance, he could hear when someone else was sharp or flat, he knew all the old songs, just like Mom.  But what he couldn't do was.....sing!  He wasn't tone deaf if he could whistle in tune, but he just could not match tones.   His singing voice just could not be in the same place on the scale that everybody else's was. That ability was just not there.  He wasn't exactly a "Poor Johnny One-Note", but it was close.

Unfortunately, that missing element made him sound awful when he sang.  Truly painful.  You couldn't sing along with him because it inevitably sounded like we were all singing different songs!  We couldn't stay in tune while he was all over the place!  And oh, how we tormented him about it!  It was this big family joke, dad would start to sing along with us and after about 5 notes, he was off into a different musical universe, and the rest of us (well, that would be just me, mostly) would cover our ears and yell at him....."Oh no, Daddy, don't sing!  You sound awful!! Please don't sing!"  And then we would all laugh and he would stop singing and just listen the rest of the way.

It makes me cringe to write that.  I can't believe we (mostly me) would repeatedly hurt him like that and he never once got mad!  Never.  He always laughed about it, but still I'm embarrassed that I didn't really know how cruel I was being. 

You see, the saddest part was that Daddy loved music just like all of us.  He just wanted to share in the fun we were having and be a part of it.  He knew that he couldn't sing (heaven knows, we told him so often enough!), still he wanted to so much....but we wouldn't let him.  I'm really sorry, Daddy!

I'd give a lot to sing with him now.    


  1. Another musical post :)) You're well-named!

  2. I love this post. I love the sharing, the story.

  3. Me too. But nothing made him happier than to listen to "his girls" sing. Remember that. It's one of the last things he got to do before he died that night - listen to us sing Christmas carols while we were washing the dishes. LS

  4. I'd forgotten that, thanks for reminding me!

  5. I feel the same way about my mom not being able to see my kids grow up, not knowing her great-grandchildren, not seeing my brother get married and have four kids. So many things and there are still times when I feel a twinge of anger that we can't share our lives with her. By the way, she also loved to sing.

    Funny about your dad, My first college love was like that. He told me that he was in a church choir and the priest would come up behind him and say, "Just mouth the words, son."

  6. Mellodee, this post brought tears to my eyes. You can sure tell a story! It breaks my heart to think that you regret not letting him sing along. If he was anything like you, I suspect he knew he couldn't sing and began singing with y'all just to get your reaction and continue the family joke. He was such a handsome man. So sorry you lost him so early in life. laurie

  7. Oh Laurie, you do say the loveliest things! I think I'll make you my new best friend! :)

    Thank you for being so supportive. Sometimes these posts get down to the core me before I even realize where its headed! And touching someone else's life with something from my life, is truly more than I ever expected from writing a blog....


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