You were there

by Aug 26, 2017


“Some days the memories still knock the wind out of me…” —anonymous

My parents wanted to take me out to dinner for my birthday, December 11, 1984. My mother was getting weaker and her cancer was taking it’s toll on all of us. I had recently purchased a wonderful small Spanish home with stucco exterior and a tile roof, near Shelby Park. It reminded me of my Florida roots. The workmen were moving very slowly and asking for money in advance. I was so focused on my mother’s health, that I was not thinking clearly. I kept giving the contractor advances for work that was never going to happen.

As we sat in the restaurant waiting for our meal to arrive, my father tore into me about that project and my stupidity and everything that I had done wrong in my life. My mother sat there in tears as I tried to defend myself. Finally, I had reached my limit long before my birthday dinner arrived. I got up, kissed my mother, turned to my father and sarcastically said: “Thank you for a lovely time,” and left. I drove home but parked my car a block away. I did not want him to find me. I wanted to hurt him, the way that he had hurt my mother and me by his rant. But, my phone did not ring and there was never a knock on my door. The next day, my dad acted as if nothing had happened and I think that made it hurt even more. I began writing lyrics to a song that he would never hear.

You always told me what I did wrong, didn’t I do anything right?
If I said it was the middle of the day, you’d say, no, it’s the middle of the night.
When I needed someone to understand, you’d always want to fight,
Don’t tell me what I did wrong, didn’t I do anything right?

I know my dad was at a loss with my mother’s illness. He was used to fixing things, but this was something that could not be fixed. He was angry and let his anger lash out at me. I wanted to be understanding but I too, was at a loss on how to fix this. My mother was dying, and I could not imagine my world without her.

My dad and I never discussed our conflict. That seemed to be our modus operandi. I did apologize to my mother for leaving her that night. I knew it pained her to hear him belittle me over and over again. I’m sure she was thinking, how could she leave this world when my dad and I were unable to get along. But I assured her, his outburst was no big deal. I told her everything was fine. It had to be fine. I knew I had to make everything fine.

After my mother passed away, I wrote this song in her honor. I regret never being able to sing it for her.

for my mother

You were there, from beginning to end, always my friend,
strong as the wind, with faith that would not bend.

You were there, when I was in a bind, with open heart and mind,
support I’d always find, in words that were so kind.

You were there, even when I went away, to help me through each day,
I’d think of what you’d say, you know, you made me this way.

And you loved me, whether I was wrong or right,
Good or bad, day or night.
And now, what am I supposed to do?
Life without you, I’ll never make it through,
Oh God, how I miss you.

And now, it’s time for me to go, somehow, I think you know,
Your love in me will grow, and through me, your life will show.

You were there.

J. Ronald M. York, author of Kept in the Dark, is also an accomplished musician and founder of York & Friends Fine Art Gallery.

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