To my sister's surprise, on a frigid February day, her morning phone alarm rang out, for the first time ever, Don McLean's 1970's hit song, 'American Pie':
"Long long time ago, I can still remember how that music used to make me smile..."
Magically, on the morning her children left her to go back to university and her husband on a business trip, her phone alarm switched from the annoying "beep beep beep," to our deceased father's favorite song.
Alone and half asleep, my sister listened to the song in its entirety while she awoke - remembering our father who passed away over 20 years ago.
Growing up, our father, would blast the song "American Pie" in the kitchen. To our amusement (and sometimes embarrassment if we had friends over), he would dance around the kitchen island. When we'd all had enough, he would plug in his head set and tap his toes and snap his fingers on the spot, often singing off tune beside the stereo, his head-set cord keeping him 'leashed' to one spot.
I relish this memory of him.
I have been humming this tune to myself to make sense of this magical change in my sister's ring tone to our father's favorite song. All my sister's family claim they did nothing to change her ring tone.
Is it a sign? Did someone want to make my sister smile on this cold February morning? Was it simply a technical Apple phone glitch? The following day, her alarm was back to "beep beep beep"...
I really can't make sense of it but it has made us remember our father.
And it sits with me.
So, as I reflect on my father dancing in the kitchen, it reminds me how hard it is to live in the moment; to let go and dance. Maybe it is just me, but it seems we are always anticipating and waiting for the next thing - another distraction, another thrill, the next milestone.
I'd like to share with you a favorite quote my dad left with my sister and me, about six months before he died.
Perhaps, the 'phone alarm glitch' can be used as a reminder to play the music, dance on the kitchen floor, relish the moments and the people which disappear from our lives all too soon.
TUCKED AWAY in our subconscious minds is an idyllic vision in which we see ourselves on a long journey that spans an entire continent. We’re traveling by train and, from the windows, we drink in the passing scenes of cars on nearby highways, of children waving at crossings, of cattle grazing in distant pastures, of smoke pouring from power plants, of row upon row upon row of cotton and corn and wheat, of flatlands and valleys, of city skylines and village halls.
But uppermost in our conscious minds is our final destination – for at a certain hour and on a given day, our train will finally pull into the Station with bells ringing, flags waving, and bands playing. And once that day comes, so many wonderful dreams will come true. So restlessly, we pace the aisles and count the miles, peering ahead, waiting, waiting, waiting for the Station.
“Yes, when we reach the Station, that will be it!” we promise ourselves. “When we’re eighteen. . . win that promotion. . . put the last kid through college. . . buy that 450SL Mercedes-Benz. . . have a nest egg for retirement!”
From that day on we will all live happily ever after.
Sooner or later, however, we must realize there is no Station in this life, no one earthly place to arrive at once and for all. The journey is the joy. The Station is an illusion–it constantly outdistances us.
So, gently close the door on yesterday and throw the key away. It isn’t the burdens of today that drive men mad, but rather regret over yesterday and the fear of tomorrow. Regret and fear are twin thieves who would rob us of today.
So stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles. Instead, swim more rivers, climb more mountains, kiss more babies, count more stars. Laugh more and cry less. Go barefoot oftener. Eat more ice cream. Ride more merry-go-rounds. Watch more sunsets. Life must be lived as we go along. The Station will come soon enough.
Robert J Hastings.