This music generated memory proves the theory that children do not care what activity they do with parents they just want quality time together.
In the days before curb-side trash pick up, my dad loaded up the metal drums that held our week's worth of trash in the bed of his orange Datsun truck and headed off to the city dump. My sister and I sat in the bench seat next to him. With windows down and the wind whipping my long hair all around, we set off on an adventure. Our hometown was small, but the drive to the outskirts felt long.
Dad loved music and sang along to whatever tune blasted from the radio next. Dad was also really silly and loved to laugh. One particular Saturday morning, Roy Orbison's Anything You Want (You Got It) came on. We tapped our toes and bobbed our heads. Roy sang:
Every time I look into your loving eyes
I see a love that money can't buy
One look from you I drift away
I pray that you are here to stay.
Anything you want,You got it
Anything at all,You got it.
I know Roy was singing about romantic love, but I could hear a parent's love for his child and a child's adoration for her daddy in those words too.
When Roy got to the chorus, my dad belted out “You got it!” in his silliest falsetto. Two little girls giggled and waited for the next “You got it!” Dad did not disappoint. He cracked himself up as Roy sang. The next stanza began:
Every time I hold you I begin to understand,
Everything about you tells me I'm your man.
I live my life to be with you.
No one can do the things you do.
Anything you want, you got it.
Anything you need, you got it.
Anything at all, you got it.
Anything you want
Anything you need
Anything at all
Dad contracted a sudden onset autoimmune disease. He was intubated and paralyzed from the neck down. Nurses had advised us that we needed to avoid discussing his scary health status with him. Words of comfort and encouragement were the best things to offer him as he was trapped in his own body.
I stood at Dad's bedside. It was evening, and I was exhausted from a day of worry and uncertainty. I looked out the windows. The street lights twinkled light on an otherwise pitch black night. The vast darkness mirrored my family's worry and the possibility that this man would not pull through.
I was at a loss for more encouraging words, so I began to softly sing to my dad. I sang hymns and was stunned that even under duress I was able to remember the lyrics in their entirety.
I finished one song and started another. Suddenly, Roy's chorus came to mind. Anything you want, you got it. Anything you need, You got it. Here was my sweet, silly dad laying sedated in a hospital gown. He was hooked up to so many machines that beeped their own rhythm as I sang.
I couldn't think of any better words for the occasion. I wanted to give him anything he wanted. I was desperate to meet his every medical need. It stirred my long-ago memories of the rides to the city dump and the sing-a-longs in the truck. I was comforted as I sang through my tears.
Had Dad succombed to that awful condition, memories of singing to him and his ever so slight nods of his head would have been such a comfort. But he did recover—fully. He has no memory of his weeks under sedation or that night when I sang to him. That desperate circumstance taught me the power of song and how it touches on a far deeper level than we can imagine.