I met my Dad when I was almost five years old. He is the reason for my deep love of music. He was this fascinating, worldly man. He had this modern city apartment and something called a HI-FI stereo. One day I had the adventure of talking to him on the phone, not a common
practice for a five year old in the 1960s. There was a piano playing
in the background. It was a beautiful piece I later learned was Glenn
Gould's version of Bach's Goldberg Variations.
Up until that time, my experience with piano music was of my Mom
playing Christmas carols; show tunes, or Italian Opera. Always LIVE
and in-person. So, naturally I assumed the background music at my
Dad's apartment was also LIVE. I was even more captivated by his ability to play the piano while talking on the telephone. I asked my Dad how he was able to do both simultaneously. He said it was easy
because he was playing with his TOES. For many years afterward I believed this to be true. I felt especially lucky to know the only man in the world who could play the piano with his toes.
As the years passed, the Goldberg Variations were my special connection with my Dad. In fact, I didn't like to share my listening experience with anybody else except my Dad. It just didn't feel the same. When I would play the piece without him, I would plug my self in to earphones so it was all encompassing.
A few days ago, when I was in Pasadena visiting my Mom and Dad, I had this compelling yearning that woke me up at two in the morning. I knew we didn't have much time left together and I wanted to have one more experience with my Dad and Glenn Gould. So, I ran downstairs and found Dad was wide-awake, softly conversing with my sister Annie. I asked him if he would like to share a musical surprise. At his okay, I put my ipod's ear buds in my Dad's ears and pushed play. It was such a special moment! There was my Dad, fully enveloped in the Goldberg Variations, quietly humming the notes. And then, as my sister and I watched, Dad raised his arms and started playing the piano notes in the air. It was one of the most the most mesmerizing encounters I'll ever witness. I'll have this vision with me forever. This particular piece of music will always be sacred to me. It represents a full
circle of life for my DAD and me.