You used to pray Bob Dylan lyrics over me when I was a baby. I blame a lot of my idiosyncrasies on this fact.
Why does my heart memorize the lyrics of 1960’s music as though it is the secret to life?
Probably because of Bob Dylan.
Why is 80% of my readership about 30 years older than me?
Probably because of Bob Dylan.
Why does my mind seem to churn like a pot head’s even when I am completely sober.
Probably because I was raised by you… but also because of Bob Dylan.
Forever Young, this was the song you sang to me from the time I was little.
It was your wishes for my life. Line after line, every single lyric of it, but the part that you prayed over me, the words that you declared to be the lyrics of my life was the last verse.
May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
When you started praying these words over me, you had no way of knowing just how harshly these winds would shift in my life.
When you held me for the first time on that December afternoon, when your soul connected to mine in the way that only a father’s adoration for his daughter can allow, when your heart began to sing those sweet low lyrics, you never knew the pain that you would have to witness in my life in the 26 short years that your timeline coexisted with my own.
I know this, because you told me this.
You told me that as a dad you felt like your job was to fix the world I lived in, to ease my path and remove as many thorns as you could, but then life happens.
My life happened.
And there was nothing you could do to fix it.
My husband was diagnosed with a brutal cancer, and daddies can’t fix cancer.
And for that last year, I was exhausted. I was fighting, and he was fighting, and in love, you too were fighting. But no matter how hard we fight, daddies can’t fix that level of exhaustion because daddies can’t heal husbands.
And then my husband died, and in the finality of it all, the loss of it all, it was devastating. And you were there, you were always there, right beside me. Beside me on the couch, beside me on the floor, beside me at the funeral. But daddies can’t fix pain like that either because daddies can’t stop death.
You spent your last year here mourning the things that you couldn’t save me from.
You couldn’t run in front me with a sword or a broom. You couldn’t slay the monsters or sweep the pain off of my path. You couldn’t do the thing that you felt was your purpose in life. And this hurt you.
I’m so sorry for the way that my life hurt you.
But Dad, I don’t think you understood your true purpose here in my life, your role in my life.
You don’t understand how well you did. You didn’t get to see it.
You see, I don’t think you were here to sweep away my pain. That wasn’t your task, because that was no one’s task, because that was an impossible task.
I think your purpose here was to build me, raise me in a way that can face this pain, that can stand strong, that can survive.
I think you were here in my life to lay a foundation, one like Bob Dylan sang about, one like you prayed over me from the time I was born, one that stands firm when the winds of changes shift.
And you did.
Your foundation, the one you raised me upon, the one built of grace, and Gospel, and 1960’s folk songs, that stood. It held not only in the winds, the shift of losing my husband, but also in the shift of losing you.
You built a foundation under me that outlived you.
And I can’t help but believe that this was your purpose in my life—that this is every father’s purpose in a child’s life. You built a foundation that remained under my feet even as the winds whipped you away.
May your heart always be joyful
And may your song always be sung
Singing another person’s song- this is what you believed love is. You believed in that scene from The Music Man– a love of a 76 Trombones duet accompanied by a sweet Goodnight My Someone. You believed that in love, we prefer to sing someone else’s song. It was your wish for my marriage—it was how you concluded your speech at my wedding, “May the joy of your hearts always be to sing the other person’s song.”
I cried to you on the night that Andrew died. I laid my head on that familiar belly of yours, that safe place of my childhood, and I cried.
I said, “Daddy.”
And you said, “I know,” because at times, the hard times, that was the only way we knew to communicate.
When we called in hospice.
When you guided me out of that room after my very last goodbye to my very favorite human.
When your own life followed shortly behind his.
But on that night, the night Andrew died, you were there.
I said, “daddy.”
And you said, “I know,” and I said, “I’m scared. I’m scared that my song will never be sung again.”
And you said, “It will,” and then you said, “It has always been. I’ve been singing it for nearly 26 years.”
And I rested in this fact. I adored this fact. I loved being a song you sang, a tune of worth in your life.
But then you left too. And I was scared again. I was so scared that I would spend eternity singing the song of my two lost loves, and that no one would be left here to sing mine.
But Dad, you should know, it’s still being sung down here. My song is still being sung.
It’s beautiful, faith-filled.
He’s beautiful, faith-filled.
I think you would love this new rendition.
May you stay forever young
You loved the end of Breakfast of Champions. You loved it so much, that I was willing to rip the page out. I defaced a book, a precious, precious book for you. I removed this page from my book, and I framed it, and you hung it in your den just over your computer.
In the end, Vonnegut wrote himself into the novel- and you thought that was revolutionary.
He wrote himself in with the mission to tell Kilgore Trout, this beloved repeat character, about himself, to tell him about the “creator” of the character. Vonnegut was the author, he was Kilgore’s ‘God’ in a sense. And what did he do? How did he express this power of the pen over the character he created?
He set Kilgore free.
The last line of the book :
“Here was what Kilgore Trout cried about to me in my father’s voice: “Make me young, make me young, make me young!’”
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.
You prayed Bob Dylan lyrics over me as a baby- you prayed them over my life.
And today, these same lyrics are my prayer for you- I pray them over your eternity.
Oh Daddy, may you stay forever young.