The week we celebrated. Celebrating is still so tough. Many of the bands my dad played with over the years got together and hosted an evening of music. There was bluegrass, blues, jazz, folk, gospel and a dash of old school rock ‘n roll (think Elvis Presley era). Band after band played music Daddy loved. Each band left an empty microphone where my dad would have played with them.
The night was wonderful, but it was also tough on mom and me. We shared a scarf as tissues, each of us blotting our eyes with one end of the scarf. My mom is always a resourceful thinker.
The performances were made up of a motley crew; I’d go as far as calling some of the men gruff. Men that despite my needling can’t seem to give up smoking or worse yet, nasty chewing tobacco. They’re big and burly. The kind of men who would polish up a shot gun when their daughter brings home a new boyfriend. And here these men stood, bleary eyed, soft as marshmallow fluff.
They told stories of how my dad would be the only man in Shelby strutting down the sidewalk wearing a Hawaiian shirt because he believed that every day might as well feel as good as a vacation. (My mother gave him these shirts in one of her infamous, “Relax Dammit!” moments, and the shirts stuck around.) They wrote tribute songs to him. Some cried on stage; others took a quick stage right as needed. And the audience gave mom (and me, but mostly mom) a standing ovation when a Heritage award was given to my Dad for his service cultivating arts from the heritage of North Carolina.
Most of the work bringing the night together has to be given to a dear friend, and near brother, Darin Aldridge. He’ll always hold a special place in my heart located somewhere between my father, my childhood and pure love. He organized it all, bringing together generations of friends for a night of pickin’ and grinnin’. And when they all got on stage, and their eyes rolled back in their heads because they were so in to the music, I knew, “Dad would love this.”