A Ten Dollar Raise

Music has always been as important to me as books, and my musical palate is just as eclectic as my bookshelf.  Music makes me forget the bad, savor the good, and march to the beat of my own drum.  I love music, and what it does for me.

It helps me with my feelings.  Music is like the sun hitting the dust motes in the air…you know what I am talking about, that moment when you don’t see anything in front of a window, then all of a sudden, the sun hits the air in front of you just the right way, and WHAM!!  You see these little floaty things in front of you that were not visible before, and you can watch them move and dance according to the air currents.

That kinda describes what music does for me.  Not only am I on a Kindle budget, I am on an iTunes budget.  I even bought Micheal Jackson’s “Bad” album the other night.  Listen, “PYT” just floats my boat.

I also love buying old music that I have loved for years, so now I can listen on my phone.  A year or so ago, I bought an album that was one of the most played in my college years: Indigo Girls, and I believe it was self titled.  It was an epic album, self-titled or not.  I wore that little cassette tape out, let me tell you.  I also bought the CD when that format became popular, but I hadn’t listened to it in forever when I decided to buy it in digital. 

I was driving down the road, that day, and had the album playing, and all of a sudden I heard these lyrics:

“I don’t know when I noticed life was life at my expense,

the words of my heart lined up like prisoners on a fence.

The dreams came in like needy children, tugging at my sleeve.

I said, I have no way of feeding you, so leave.


There was a time I asked my father for a dollar, and he gave it a ten dollar raise…”

When I heard these words for the first time in 15 or so years, my eyes teared up and I had to turn the volume down.  This was my dad.  Whenever I went back to school in Atlanta, on Sundays after weekends spent at home, Dad would always slip me a $20 to make it home, even though he made sure I had plenty of money to pay bills and such.  That time of hearing those lyrics for the first time in years, we had his diagnosis, and he was slowly slipping away and was not himself.

Now, he only has about $5 in his wallet, because why does he need more? And boy, every time I listen to that song, it makes me cry (and I am sucker for that song, so I listen to it a lot). 

My dad did so much for us, in so many ways.  I wanted to be like my dad.  I can remember him taking off his shirt working outside, when I was about 5 years old, and I had my shirt off before my mother could get to me to teach me better.  Dad had a certain way of walking, where he would put his hand against his hip (probably to hitch his pants up), and he did it a lot.  So I started walking like that. 

When I finally decided I could no longer live with my mother (his first wife, my adoptive mother), I called him on a Thursday night, he was there the next morning, and I was enrolled and in the local school that Monday, and a permanent member of his household.  I was 13.  He has always been there for me.  He might not be nice about it all the time, but he had my back.

I drove the hour to see him tonight because I want to have his back.  He had mentioned that he couldn’t find the football games last week.  This crappy disease has robbed him of his ability to work a remote or a radio or the air conditioning in his room.  Auburn played at 6 tonight, and I couldn’t get my dad off my mind.  I knew by the middle of the week that I was going to make the effort to be there for that game.  I wasn’t going to make anybody go with me, but I was going to make sure that the game was on his tv. 

And I did.  He was sitting there, waiting on me.  He doesn’t act super happy to see me.  I don’t care.  This is the man who came and got me every time I called, when I lived with my mother.  This is the man, who after that woman told me some not so nice stuff about him (when I was 19 and visiting with her for Christmas, yeah, Merry Christmas to me), he hugged me, and said, “You’ve done some things I don’t like, but I love you anyway, and what she told you doesn’t change anything about us.”  When I had a major problem come up in 1999 (it was major), he wrote “Psalm 23” on a post-it and left it on my desk.  He took my side during a major break up.  He built our home, he gave us the land it sits on, he cares for my children.

So I am going to make sure that he can watch a football game that might bring him back to me for just a short time.  And I am going to cry every time I think of him giving me a $20 raise.  And I am going to thank God I still have a little bit of him. Love your parents and your family, guys.  Because as one of my favorite songs from the 80’s goes:

Because life is so brief and time is a thief when you’re undecided.
And like a fistful of sand, it can slip right through your hands.



2 thoughts on “A Ten Dollar Raise

  1. Pingback: A Ten Dollar Raise | tinabopper

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