Sunday, June 8, 2008

Victor J Nelson

Last week my sister Laura sent all of the siblings a note about our Father. He is ninety years old and is nearing the end of the journey. Because of weakness, he has been falling a lot lately; that mixed with increasing dementia and weight loss have caused his family and care givers great concern. In the note that Laura sent, she mentioned that Dad had been sitting in the lobby of the assisted living center more often then usual, watching people come and go, and singing Edelweiss to them. At first this made me feel pretty sad but then I was reminded of all the times that Dad had sung for me.

When I was a little girl I thought that my Dad was the most handsome, brilliant, and talented Dad in the world. It seemed to me that there wasn't anything out there that my Dad couldn't do. He was always the life of the party and would tell funny and interesting stories. He had a lot of friends and our home was filled with the best kind of love and laughter. He had a large variety of interests and pursued many hobbies with great success. Among some of them were photography, woodwork, and music. Because of my Dad, cultural themes were often a topic of conversation around the dinner table, and I can remember my Dad coming back from Europe after having gone on tour with The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and mentioning how moved he had been when he stood in front of an enormous painting by Rembrandt called "Night Watch". His words left me with a burning desire to see for myself. His formal piano instruction lasted only a few months but my Dad could play every song in the hymn book.

His love of music and singing gave him an opportunity to sing in the before mentioned Tabernacle Choir. And sing he did. My Dad had a degree in botany from Utah State University, which I guess made him the perfect man to build homes. That's what he did to feed his ever growing family, but he really lived through music. We always knew when Dad was home from work because he would take a shower every evening and the singing would begin. I think he loved to sing in the shower because his wonderful voice would reverberate off the walls of the shower and sounded better then ever. We could all hear him and it seemed like a normal part of the day to us, it was comforting and sweet.

I don't ever remember my Dad mentioning an interesting football game. He couldn't tell you anything about basketball. He probably knew something about baseball, but I don't remember it. I do remember the singing. As I sat in church I could hear my father’s powerful voice above all the others, maybe it was because I was sitting right next to him, but I don't think so. I remember people turning around to stare at him and feeling a huge sense of pride that my Dad could really sing well. He would often gather all of us around the piano and we would have family sing-a-longs. Most of us know all the songs from "My Picture Book Of Songs". When I became sick, Mom would take care of my physical needs, and then Dad would hold me in his lap, rocking and singing to me. He would let us all know when he thought someone had done a good job of singing in church, and why they weren't so good if they had, in his opinion, failed. I still like songs sung in church to be done a certain way, and yes, it's the way my Dad taught me. He had a couple of blind spots when it came to music. He hated rock-n-roll, Jazz, and only liked a handful of pop artists. OK, he was a music snob. One of the best parts of our Sunday was watching the weekly broadcast of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. There was our wonderful, photogenic, TV star Dad, singing his heart out. One week the choir sang a song with words by William Shakespeare, "Who Is Silvia". He told me that they had sung it just for me. As always, I believed him. "He was a man, take him for all in all, I shall not look upon his like again."

I love you Dad.