If you’ve been reading for a while…you may be thinking, “what WERE we expecting?”
This afternoon, as my Facebook status read, I took my parents to a local performance of … among other things, Handel’s Messiah. It was the Long Bay Symphony chamber orchestra and members of the Master Chorale (not the whole chorale).
I’m old hat with Messiah. Mom & dad have performed it so many times, I’ve observed them performing it so many times, *I’VE* performed it so many times that i don’t need the score. This is something that has been a part of my life for….well, most of my life…I remember one Christmas season telling people that instead of singing Jingle Bells, I found myself singing arias and recitatives from Messiah. I think I was around 12 when I said that.
It occurred to me as the final bars of Hallelujah rang that I had never been in the audience WITH my parents when they literally *couldn’t* be performing it. It is reality. Let me back up a few hours.
My dad has always been a snappy dresser. He looks spiffy in jeans. Never wears slouchy looking clothes…and by slouchy I mean unkempt. I came home from church to him trying on clothes that he wanted to wear to the concert. Jim had told me how excited he was to be going. He had his grey flannel pants on, and he was trying his double breasted blue blazer to go with it. He came out to the kitchen with this blazer that used to fit him perfectly….hanging off him as if he were wearing his DAD’s clothing…as a small child. It was just…well…let’s just say the 45 lbs he has lost in the past year SHOWED at that moment.
He was always the conductor…or at least the tenor…and while today’s performance was good for Myrtle Beach…it was painful to see my dad NOT the conductor, or the tenor. He was sought after, to speak with, after the performance…a handful of people sought him out – but it was different. I couldn’t help shed a tear. Or a bunch of tears.
So why? I don’t know if anyone knows this feeling (and I’m not being condescending….I just truly don’t know). I don’t “idolize” my dad in this particular sense – it is just true. The Maestro – Professor Aquino, Manager of the John Oliver Chorale, composer, tenor…coach, teacher…and the consummate professional. He was the one. How many times did I hear, “Oh, you’re Antone & Margaret’s daughter. Do you sing?” Way back in the day, I would cringe and feel like running for the hills. I wanted to be Mary. Known for…well, whatever I wanted to be known for. Now, I ache for the days where I was the daughter of the Maestro. Not for me. For him.
I do have to say – I was proud of him today (I’m always PROUD of him…but, this time a little different reason). As the final tones of Hallelujah decayed, he looked at me and said, “The singers will be over there (pointing off to the side of the stage area) and we should go over there right now.” No sooner had I nodded my very first yes nod, then off he ran…I could barely catch the sly old coot! He was like a kid going to see his best pals at school after a vacation break. The “sparkle” in his eye was fierce. And, as he kibbutz-ed with his friends, the tears came- his, mine….it was just strange.
I have tried my best to be the one to remind him that in his life, he has had SO MANY accolades. So many times where he was the one being sought after to kibbutz. He was the one after the performance taking the bows. He was the one being congratulated on a job well done. Today, I tried to live into my words – it’s still hard and tears come when I think back to watching him, a mere shadow of himself just one year ago, and I can’t even conceptualize what he must feel. I don’t want any of this to be painful – the odd thing is, his cancer is *not* painful to him…but what it’s doing to him is painful – sapping his strength, destroying his voice, limiting his desire to eat, gain strength and be more vital. I don’t want him to feel any pain at all…physical or emotional. The doctors can help with the physical pain, but there will always be an emotional pain that no pill can touch. The difference between the podium and the audience.