And Dad Would Sing

family-singingFrom time to time my mother would play my sister’s accordion. She played simple songs, usually polkas and waltzes, from my sister’s beginning instruction book. Ours was a musical household. My accordion sister also played piano and organ. I play piano and organ as well, and dabbled in guitar and recorder. My oldest sister played piano as a child. My older brother tried guitar and today still sings in his church choir. My younger sister and brothers played in their school band. And Dad would sing.

He sang silly songs like this one:

The first verse, the first verse. The fly sat on the wall. She loves me, she loves me, she loves me best of all!

The second verse, the same as the first. The fly sat on the wall. She loves me, she loves me, she loves me best of all!

He sang popular songs he’d learned as a child. His specialty was Gene Autry’s “South of the Border,” which he sang at a school program when he was in the fifth grade. While we were milking cows, he sometimes sang along with the barn radio, tuned to the Eau Claire country music station. He sang from his pew in church on Sunday. And in our family’s music room he’d sometimes sing along when I was at the piano.

I don’t remember the last time I heard him sing. He died in 2005; however, his Parkinson’s disease had taken away his ability to fully communicate long before then. But he still sings in my imagination, an encore performance I cherish.

Laura Sternweis

Photo: From right to left — my older brother, my dad, and I singing at the piano in the mid 1980s.

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