Looking Out My Back Window #282

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Originally posted on Facebook HERE

Tree’s up! Must be Christmas. Heard The Mills Brothers on my way home last night, got me thinking about my dad. He loved them. We had music in common – he played professionally for years way, way back when. Dad was born in 1910. Would have turned 112 on December 8th, but he passed back in 1981 when I was 22 years old. He was 48 when I was born in 1959. And I started thinking back to my life from that point on. Growing up in Oshkosh in the 60s. Really trying to remember what that was like, what I was like. It gets harder to do as each year passes I guess. And then – just, how my life unfolded to this point. It’s absolutely insane to look back on. I think dad loved to work. He was a loyal person, too. Worked for one company for 42 years. Crazy, don’t see that very often anymore. But… that company let him go in the early 70s. And I think that crushed his spirit from that point on. As I remember it, they eliminated his position and hired a couple young guys to do his work for less than they were paying him, and it was done in such a way that they didn’t have to pay him a full pension – he got $9/mo paid quarterly – $27/qtr for 42 years of work. And he tried to find another job, but… he was in his 60s and couldn’t find a job in his industry, so he opened a liquor store with a friend who was also let go from the same company. That store stayed open for a couple years before he finally just retired. But as I remember it, he seemed more cynical and jaded about life after that. And in 1974, when I was 14 years old, I started drinking and using drugs. I also started playing bass guitar that same year as well. Our house was the “jam” house back then. For whatever reason, my parents let us practice in the basement at ridiculous volumes. Never complained. I think he liked that I was also a musician, and back then I was really into jazz, so a friend and I would play just piano and bass for hours. Another friend and I would do the same thing just bass and sax, mostly blues riffs. And by the time I was 17 I was playing in clubs (18 drinking age back then, but they never carded the band). I basically made a living playing music from 1977-2005 or so. When dad passed in 1981, I was devastated. I was also in the middle of my dependence on alcohol and drugs as well. I was high at the funeral. I stayed behind and other than the person who closed the casket, I was the last person to see him. He never got to know me as a sober adult. I quit using in 1988 when I was 29 years old. And I’ve been clean ever since. He would have loved to see all the bands I played with, all the recordings I’ve done, and how successful I’ve become as a business person as well. But what I’d give to sit with him today and listen to the Mills Brothers. There was this little bar on Algoma Street in Oshkosh that had a pool table, a jukebox and hot beef sandwiches. He’d take me there, we’d play “Cab Driver”, eat lunch and I’d play pool while he shot the breeze at the bar. Wow. What great memories. I don’t often take the time to look back like this, but sometimes it’s the only way to see how far you’ve come. My dad’s spirit is totally with me today. I think it’s always there really, it’s such a huge part of who I am. Hard working. Honest. Funny. And dad taught me one extremely valuable lesson I’m not sure he ever learned: no matter what happens, don’t let life beat you down. We rise up and greet every day as the gift that it is. And we help anyone we can in any way we can along the way. Thanks, dad. I love you, I always have. I think I’ve created a life you would be extremely proud of. I was always proud of you. And I never doubted your love for me