"He respects Owl, because you can't help respecting anybody who can spell Tuesday, even if he doesn't spell it right." ~A. A. Milne
On a visit to my dad's office as a 10-year-old, I noticed a brightly-colored bumper sticker poking out from behind the layers of newspaper cartoons, family photos, messy watercolor paintings, and poorly-crafted art projects hanging on his bulletin board. I pulled the faded rectangle far enough away from the cork to read the black, block lettering...it stated, proudly but longingly, "I Should Have Been a Rock'n'Roll Star".
I never doubted my dad's skills as an accountant or that he enjoyed his job. But on that day I thought of him differently than I had previously - I could see him on a different path. I could see him cozied up to the microphone, guitar clutched to his torso, on stage in a dark, noisy Northern Wisconsin bar where he played rock'n'roll music for hours in exchange for tips and all the beer he could drink. I could see him making a living and living a life that revolved less around the black-and-white of numbers and more around the blended grays of melodies and harmonies. On that day I wondered if he had regrets.
Though his rock'n'roll band days are behind him, music still plays an important role in his life. He "jams" with friends (and is kind enough to include Tom and me in their sessions whenever we're in Madison), shares his talents with friends and family members at weddings, and is now beginning to teach his grandchildren.
Whenever his family members and/or friends gather (especially in the name of a garage sale), my dad pulls up, guitar in hand. Singers join him for rousing renditions of "Drunken Sailor" and "Jamaican Farewell", the tone-deaf sit back in their chairs and enjoy the music they don't have to make, and enchanted children flock to his feet and watch in awe as his fingers transition from chord to chord and effortlessly strum those six strings. His grandchildren are no exception.
This picture was taken the summer before Will turned three, during our family garage sale. (That's a mandolin, not a guitar, by the way. Back then Will preferred the mandolin because it was little, like him.)
These pictures were taken three summers later, right after Hallie turned three (and during our family garage sale).
And this picture was taken this summer, when Lily was two-and-a-half (and during our family garage sale).
Hopefully we will add one more photo to this series in two years, when (during our family garage sale) then-two-year-old Carter finally gets to sit on the steps with his grandpa and his guitar.
Side note: did anyone else notice that my dad is wearing the EXACT SAME OUTFIT on the porch with Lily as he was wearing on the porch with Will four years earlier? This made me laugh hysterically.
I don't think my dad has any regrets, at least not any about stepping down off the stage and stepping up into an office. I'm pretty sure he wishes he'd bought a pink Cadillac back when he had the chance though...