Literary Actions – The Musical
Some of you may recall that my recent “First Friday Funnies” post was not so funny. I was attending the funeral of my father’s beloved girlfriend Trish that day. She had fought a long battle with a complicated illness that would sometimes, in the last five years, leave her seeming just fine. She and my father would do all their favorite things together, camping in the Virginia mountains, long nature walks, building bird gardens and sanctuaries, exploring local historic sites, and leaving pennies behind on old railroad tracks, and photographing all they saw. But there were other times when she was in a great deal of pain, and often hospitalized for days at a time. Her way of looking at life was that she knew she didn’t have much time left on this earth, so was going to live every moment to its fullest, with my Dad, the true love of her life, and she, the true love of his.
One of the most important parts of their relationship was music. They met in the late 1970′s while he was performing with his band in a Philadelphia apartment in the Tacony section of town. He, already divorced from my mother, and Trish, single with no children, fell in love the instant they set eyes on each other. They lived entirely in the moment, and a few days later she moved in with us in our two bedroom apartment at 69th and Broad Street in Philly. There, we lived with her dog Moon Shadow, her cat #9, and at times a few snakes. But most importantly, my Dad and Trish shared an insatiable love of his music that he wrote, performed on guitar, and sang in the band, Earth Shine.
In the beginning they practiced in the attic above my bedroom. I was only about 4 years old at the time. Soon after, they moved to the detatched garage that from floor to ceiling, they covered with carpet scraps as a sound barrier. I remember many nights, laying in my bed, listening to the music from the garage through my open window. In other words, the sound barrier did not work out as well as intended, much to the neighbor’s dismay, but, I liked hearing the music anyway. It made me feel less alone, closer to my Dad.
Not long after a car accident my father and I were in during my Kindergarten year, my mother came down to Philly from Connecticut where she was living at the time with my little sister, Angie, and her father, my step-father, Andrew, and whisked me away to what she thought would be a better, more stable life in Connecticut. It may have been more stable, for a while, but I missed my Dad and his music, and our almost daily romps through Pennypack park and camping in the Poconos.
Over the years, they continued with their adventures in music and all things outdoors. But eventually they did break up. It sent my Dad into a deep depression, and he threw himself even more into work, and then, eventually, back into music with a new band. Trish married and had a son in 1982, but divorced soon after. She and my father never forgot about each other. I know it seems cliche’, but it’s the truth. She read and listened to his music almost daily while they were apart. He wrote and sang songs of love and angst about her. The above picture of the three of us never left my father’s wallet. It is still there to this day. When he and I would walk through the Pennypack woods in Philly, or ride through the Pocono mountains, or see a young woman with dark brown hair parted down the middle, we would reminisce about Trish. She was always there. She was never really gone.
Then, out of the blue, she called my Dad some years ago, after I’d finished undergrad and grad school, after I’d married and started my own family. After many years of my father living his life on his own, but very close with me. We were like best friends. They tried to take it slow, but that only lasted a few days. They were full on back together and spending every moment possible together, living and enjoying each day as if it could be the last, up until the day she died.
During the last years of her life he wrote many songs for her, sang them for her, and she would giddily like a teen aged girl, urge him to sing another. He did. Her last words to him, hours before she died were, “Don’t you ever stop making music.” He didn’t…This is the song he sang to her at her bedside – raw, unplugged, honest – before she flew off into the shinning, full moon of that cold December night.
She will never be forgotten. She will live on in all that she loved – trees, mountains, rivers and oceans, birds, and most of all, music. Music already written and music yet to be penned.