Tupelo Honey

3 May

My dad was kind of an odd duck. He not only loved music but lyrics too. He would make me sit and listen to the words of songs, repeating the lyrics line by line to make sure I heard and understood them. His passion was infectious, at times bordering on mania in its intensity. “Isn’t that beautiful?!” He’d say making sure I nodded along agreeing, even if I was five and barely understood what he was talking about. “It’s poetry! It’s poetry!” He felt the same way about literature and always left numerous articles and books on my bed to read whether I wanted to or not.  

One of my father’s favorite singers was Van Morrison. During one of his energetic moments, he went to great lengths to share with me why the song “Tupelo Honey” was such a beautiful love song. “It’s a very special honey. Like the best kind,” he explained. “She’s as sweet, as tupelo honey, just like honey from the bees…. she’s an angel, of the first degree…” “Do you hear the rhyme?” he’d ask. And I’d nod, yes. yes. I heard the rhyme. And the saxophone in the backdrop. For the thousandth time.

Another Van Morrison song dad was fond of was “Cleaning Windows” which he liked for the horns and the line, “Smell of the bakery, got in my nose…” And if I recall correctly, dad told me that Van Morrison had started singing about God. He was kind of impressed by that. 

Van Morrison wasn’t Dad’s only favorite. Jackson Browne was “brilliant.” Judy Collins “magnificent.” And thus, the singers of the seventies are etched forever in the landscape of my memories. 

The other day I was pulling into the parking lot of San Diego Hospice when “Tupelo Honey” came on the radio. I hadn’t heard it in years. Ironically, I was there to see a therapist who had helped me through my father’s death and is now assisting me through my mother’s. I let the engine idol so I could hear the song. It felt like just yesterday that dad and I were sitting in the living room listening to that same song. Where had the years and he gone?

In the distance, I heard the sax. 

Yes, Dad. I hear it. Can you see me smile?

It’s as sweet as tupelo honey.

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