my father died when i was 18. heart attack. my first semester at college.
a decade ago september 26.
he was 69.
he left behind a gorgeous 1956 gibson guitar. pristine.
most of my life it had lived under his bed. i was not allowed to touch it because i did not know how to play. that’s how my father reasoned everything: you can get your driver’s license when you can afford a car. you can play a jazz guitar when you learn how to play jazz.
he was classically trained, and i believe he bought the guitar brand new, when he was my age now: 28.
when i was 2, he sliced off the tip of his index finger at work. though his finger healed, it was forever too sensitive to play his guitar. and so my memories of him with the guitar are cryptic at best. my sisters tell of his constant playing when they were small.
my mother gave me the guitar after he died. i carried it with me to nashville, and i learned to play. everytime i opened the case, i smelled my father.
in 2004, i went into the hospital after a breakdown. i had no insurance. i worked at starbux. debt collectors hounded me immediately, and a few months after leaving the hospital, i had to hide my car from the repo man. do you see where this is going?
in order to stave off bankruptcy, i sold the most tangible connection i still had with my father. i sold it to a friend, a very good friend, who happens to be the lead guitarist of a Platinum Selling Popular Band ™. i did so under the expectation to buy it back when times were better. in the meantime, he would treasure it.
my friend spent good money restoring the guitar. he posed with it for an album cover photoshoot, and sent me a framed 5×7. he wrote songs on it, and sent me mp3s. for three years, i have gotten to hear that guitar sing like it was meant to.
a few months ago, he let me know that he had to sell the guitar to pay for an addition to his house. i tried to get the money to buy it back, but we were simultaneously paying rent and a mortgage on a condo we were trying to sell. i decided to let it go. there was no other choice. i reasoned that that my father had blessed me with a guitar that kept me out of bankruptcy (for a while, anyway…but that’s another story…) perhaps it had served its purpose in my life. i tried to believe this.
some circumstances in our lives have changed very recently.
i can buy it back now.
but. my friend has sold the guitar.
i am about to start my period any minute now. i am more emotional than usual. and this is the first pang of grief over my father’s death that i have experienced sans prozac and mood stabilizers. but i had a moment of hope today; that i would buy back the guitar, and keep it in our family. i would pass it down to our child, give him or her a tangible piece of the grandfather they will never meet.
that dream was dashed as soon as it came.
and so i’m drinking a scotch. having a cigarette. sitting on the porch listening to airplanes. and weeping.