Perhaps it was the fact that I was his third child, and he felt like maybe he had a little more of an opportunity as a father to influence me than his first two children. From the time I can remember, my father listened to three things: country music, NPR radio, and Garrison Keillor on Sunday.
And as a young girl, not only was I blown away at the actual volume at which he played them, particularly in the car, but also at how boring NPR radio was to me at the time. And so, I happily enjoyed the alternative, country music.
When I was old enough to have my own radio, I would roll the dial to only station I knew at the time; 98.1, WHWK...the Hawk! They played for me the likes of Alabama, Garth Brooks, Reba McIntyre, Tanya Tucker, Linda Davis, Alan Jackson. All of the early 1990 classic performers. Sunday mornings were a little bit of a drag for me, because they had a special 'oldies' program where they played classic country songs from the 50's and 60's. I may not have tuned in to that program often, but I heard bits and pieces of songs that influenced the music I was growing to love.
My older siblings were beyond the point of appreciating country music. My big brother consistently made fun of my choice of 'twangy' garbage music. As a nine year old at the time, I didn't have a wide variety of comebacks that would have made him reconsider his bashing; so I stuck with the usual retorts of "YOU'RE music is dumb!" and "I'm telling!".
Despite all of this, and all the years of running into people who don't appreciate country music, I still love country music. I have come to appreciate many different kinds of music and I love that there is so much variety to choose from.
But....when there is something I want to remember, I always listen to country music.
When there is a memory I want to embrace and touch and feel, I always listen to country music. It always takes me to exactly where I need to be, and gives me a familiar comfort of things I have loved that are no longer; moments that have passed; people I used to know.
So last night, as I pondered the quickly fading life of an Uncle over 2,000 miles away, I played my country music, and remembered him. While he's always been very distant, and truthfully, I can count on both hands the number if times I have seen him in my life, a small part of my heart ached to feel and remember those small and brief memories I have of him. He may not have touched the lives of many people, but in the final moments of life, every dying person deserves to have someone remember them, and love them, and maybe shed a few tears for them. Every person, no matter how far they have taken themselves, should know that their life was worthwhile, and that someone can maybe feel some of their deeply covered grief.
And as I played my music, I remembered those few moments, those moments of precious rhetoric I had with a distant Uncle. And I was grateful. And I'm sure he would choose country music over NPR radio, too.