The Best Present: Being Present

Dear Lindsey,

“Sometimes I feel like… somebody’s watching me!” so the song goes! I loved when my husband put that as background music on Instagram (@CBrascal) to a video of my dog watching him through the window. LOL! Is there ever a time that “I feel like somebody’s watching me!” is a good thing?

YESSSS!

-when parents watch their kids! I don’t mean watching them at the playground to keep them safe, (though they should). I don’t mean watching kids do their chores (though I suppose it’s one way to make sure it’s done properly).   I mean a distinct moment in my teen years, when my dad’s love transcended responsibility.

At seventeen, I was a serious musician, though I would not have described myself that

sax pic

2016 Church “retro” band

way. My music teachers would tell me that they had practiced 6-8 hours/day, so my measly 2 seemed like I was less than a musician, but looking back, I realize that I could probably have called myself a musician anyway. There were many hours up in that bedroom on my saxophone. Whether it was preparing for a competition, learning new music or just enjoying music the way I do, I was alone. A lot.

The first day it happened, I was taken off guard. My dad came into my room and sat on my bed, waiting for me to finish my song. At a break, I asked what he wanted. His reply made me laugh at the time.

“Nothing. I am just here to listen.”

If my dad were a musician, I might have thought he had ulterior motives of judging me.  (because don’t all teens feel like they are being judged?) But this is the man who said he had no musical ability, because he had given it all to his kids. He often quipped that the only instrument he played was the radio.

 

“Listen to what?” I asked.

“You,” He said.

“Me? Do what?”

“Play the saxophone.”

“Well, what do you want me to play?”

“A song. Or scales. Or whatever you want. Just go on. I am just here.”

 

So I began to play. Doesn’t someone’s enjoying what you enjoy make what you enjoy so much more… enjoyable?

I am no linguisticologist, but I do make up words like that one. Similar to en-courage in a former letter, “En-joy,” seems like it would mean “putting joy into” something, although its meaning usually implies getting joy out of something. My dad’s “enjoying” my music was actually “putting joy into” me. Don’t you just love that?!

Kids spell “love,” “t-i-m-e”.  One author says that speaking love to kids doesn’t mean just spending time with them but spending time with them doing what THEY love. My dad’s time that day was stopping his busy schedule to join mine. We weren’t playing duets. He wasn’t giving me requests. He was “just there.”

This habit of him sitting on my bed while I practiced became a daily event. I would go through more songs, more scales, more ideas, just to have him stay. Soon, he added requests, “I’ll buy you a steak dinner if you learn ‘Yakety Sax!’” I loved the challenge, even though I didn’t play that kind of saxophone.

Eventually, he joined my world in a different way.  To wish me luck on a performance, he would sign my saxophone reed before I walked out the door. He chose the words: “Good luck, Saxy Lady,” which made us both laugh.

I doubt my dad loved scales. I don’t know if he loved a saxophone playing alone in the house.

But I know he loved me.

Now, when I read my daughter’s writing, watch my son’s soccer workout, see my youngest soar in the air on a wakeboard or listen to a story that I don’t quite understand all the way, I often think of my dad. I hope my love as a parent speaks as loudly as my dad’s: “Just go on. I am just here.” Being present is the best present.

 

 

Blessings,

“Saxy” Terri

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8 thoughts on “The Best Present: Being Present

  1. Terri,
    Oh, my! You have such sweet memories of your dad! Because that’s obviously what he was for you, a dad, who showed love in big and small ways all your lives together. What a precious gift you received, and how wonderful that you see it for what it was and understand it, let alone telling us so beautifully about it.

  2. Thank you for sharing Terri! That is something I can apply to my life and my children, being present and not tense.

  3. I love to read the precious memories of your dad! Thank you for the reminder to look at those times and store them so we can reflect on them.

  4. Terri,

    What a beautiful and touching story of your Dad’s love! And to think that I never even knew you played the saxophone; I do recall that you play and teach piano. All the very best to you and your family!

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