In My Life, I Loved You More (Saying Goodbye to my Dad Through Music)

Summer, 1996

When my Dad figured out that you could borrow CDs and tapes from the library and copy them, he was in bliss, and for a few weeks before our family vacation, you were guaranteed to find him in his office, making mixed tapes. Tapes upon tapes, with his neat handwriting scrawled on the spine.

That summer, my parents took me to Alberta and British Columbia for a 3-week vacation where we would drive across the two provinces, enjoying the mountains, hot springs, valleys and rugged terrains that Western Canada has to offer.

The Beatles became the soundtrack of that summer. I’d known The Beatles since coming from the womb, of course, my Mom being amongst the demographic that created Beatlemania, but my repertoire was limited to the ol’ favourites, “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”-type stuff. My Dad opened me up to a whole other side of The Beatles. The “Strawberry Fields Forever”-kind of stuff — that changed my music life forever.

“There are places I remember, all my life though some have changed…”

“In My Life” soon became my absolute favourite song by The Beatles. I can recall perking up my ears and singing along to that song every time it would play in the cassette player during that road trip. My Dad loved it so much, that on his mixed tape, he put the Bette Midler cover of the same song. She did a great version too.

For years after that, that song became synonymous with my Dad. I always would be playing the song, and would be brought back to that summer of carefree travel through Canada with my Mom and Dad… when everything was the way it should be. I even thought that it would be the song that I danced to with my Dad on my wedding day, and would get choked up imagining doing a father-daughter dance to the song that was my Dad to me.

Summer, 2009

We had set up a hospital bed in our living room. My Dad had become too sick to climb the stairs to sleep in his bedroom. During those months, he had constant visitors, and we were always sure to have people through to keep him company.

He took the news of his imminent death with the courage and grace that I would only expect of my Dad. He had told me that he wasn’t scared to die, but he had been scared to lose his mind, that being what he took the most pride in of the man he was.

It was a quiet Saturday, like all weekends during his illness, I had made the weekend trip to be with him, be with my family. My Mom and sisters weren’t around, so I thought it would be the perfect time for us. I put on “In My Life”.

“There are places I remember, all my life though some have changed…”

“Just like you had given this song to me all those years ago, Dad, this is now my song to you.”

I sat and held his hand while we listened to the song, where we both recalled the sights, smells, and sounds of that wonderful trip we had taken the decade earlier. I can still remember the way he looked, his pleasant face at a place of peace as he shared that moment with his youngest daughter.

Not long after that, he started to lose his mental abilities as cancer ravaged away at him. He died a few weeks later. I’ll always have that song to bring me back to these precious moments with my Daddy.

“In my life, I loved you more.”

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