Sometimes you sense something bigger is going on around you. Today my larger power manifested itself in Pandora. As I arrived at work and booted up my computer, I also started Pandora and wouldn’t you know, the station that launched was “Dad Inspired” and the first song was Gershwin’s Rhapsody In Blue.
See, I started this post last night so the addition of the music is only additive. And telling. Four years ago today, October 24, 2008 was the last day my father walked this earth. He died at 12:05am October 25th. So really the 24th is the day I like to focus on. The day he went to the Olive Garden to “have some soup” and the day he had a burger and a milkshake for dinner and then offered a toast to my mom and the hospice nurse at the house as one of his last conscious gestures. The day I last spoke to him and before telling me he was going to have soup he told me about the visit he’d had from the bishop of Washington which he described as a “rather grand occasion.” Indeed.
So what of Rhapsody? Wasn’t he more of a Grieg or Rachmaninoff guy? Mostly, yes but my dad and I shared a love of NYC that is best captured in that work. He took me to Manhattan when I was maybe five or six. We trained down from Scarsdale where we were visiting friends and we walked. And walked and walked and walked. We did this every year and he even took me there as a gift when I finished middle school. The memories are vivid and capture not just dad and our relationship but New York at it’s best. We went to Wolf’s Deli and I ate a ruben made for a man (I was about nine) and pickles which were always on the table and maybe a coke. We went to Bloomingdale’s when I was maybe twelve and he bought me a Keith Haring Swatch. We went to Tower Records (also 12…I was nearly kidnapped. True story.) and Academy Records. I dragged him to vintage and punk stores on Broadway because we just didn’t have places like that in Maryland. There was a handsome cab ride in Central Park. We had burgers at the Hard Rock Cafe and of course we got the t-shirt. We always took cabs. Dad was not a subway guy. NYC was our ritual, dad, daughter and the big city.
Because of him I think I knew when I was five that NYC was to be my home. Last year we nearly moved to San Francisco. Plans changed and we are happily still in Brooklyn. We were excited about moving – good time for a life change, friends out west, wine country…what’s not to like. But NYC was the last place he knew me to live. He’d been to our house in Brooklyn. He’d been to all the places I lived in NYC – all six apartments. How could I move? What a weird feeling. Leaving NYC was like leaving a piece of him behind. How strange.
We may move someday – you never know – but for now we are here. And even though Wolf’s is gone and Tower is a distant memory, NYC still lives and breathes on and in many ways so does he – TLD, DAD. And that is a good, nice and wonderful thing.