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散文佳作108篇 第84期:My Father's Music 我父亲的音乐




My Father's Music


Wayne Kalyn


I remember the day Dad first lugged the heavy accordion up our front stoop,taxing his smallframe. He gathered my mother and me in the living room and opened the case as if it were atreasure chest. "Here it is,"he said. "Once you learn to play, it'll stay with you for life."


If my thin smile didn't match his full-fledged grin, it was because I had prayed for a guitar or apiano. It was 1960, and I was glued to my AM radio,listening to Del Shannon and ChubbyChecker. Accordions were nowhere in my hit parade. As Ilooked at the shiny white keys andcream-colored bellows, I could already hear my friends' squeeze box jokes.


For the next two weeks, the accordion was stored in the hall closet. Then one evening Dadannounced that I would start lessons the following week. In disbelief I shot my eyes towardMom for support. The firm set of her jaw told me I was out of luck.


Spending $300 for an accordion and $5 per lesson was out of character for my father. He waspractical always-something he learned growing up on a Pennsylvania farm. Clothes, heat andsometimes even food were scarce.


Before I was born, he and my mother moved into her parents' two-story home in Jersey City,N.J. I grew up there on the second floor; my grandparents lived downstairs. Each weekday Dadmade the three-hour commute to and from Long Island, where he was a supervisor in acomparty that serviced jet engines. Weekends, he tinkered in the cellar, turning scraps ofplywood into a utility cabinet or fixing a broken toy with spare parts. Quiet andshy, he wasnever more comfortable than when at his workbench.


Only music carried Dad away from his world of tools and projects. On a Sunday drive, he turnedthe radio on immediately. At red lights, I'd notice his foot tapping in time. He seemed to hangon every note.


Still, I wasn't prepared when, rummaging in a closet, I found a case that looked to me like a tinyguitar's. Opening it, I saw the polished glow of a beautiffil violin. "It's your father's," Mom said. "His parents bought it for him. I guess he got too busy on the farm to ever learn to play it." Itried to imagine Dad's rough hands on this delicate instrument-and couldn't. .


Shortly after, my lessons began with Mr. Zelli at the Allegro Accordion School tucked betweenan old movie theater and a pizza parlor. On my first day, with straps straining my shoulder, Ifelt clumsy in every way. "How did he do?" my father asked when it was over. "Fine for the firstlesson,"said Mr.ZeUi. Dad glowed with hope.


I was ordered to practice half an hour every day, and every day I tried to get out of it. Myfuture seemed to be outside playing ball, not in the house mastering songs I would soonforget, but my parents hounded me to practice.


Gradually, to my surprise, I was able to string notes together and coordinate my hands toplay simple songs. Often, after supper, my father would requesta tune or two. As he sat in hiseasy chair, I would fumble through "Lady of Spain" and "Beer Barrel Polka."


"Very nice, better than last week," he'd say. Then I would segue into a med-ley of his favorites, "Red River Valley" and "Home on the Range," and he would drift off to sleep, the newspaperfolded on his lap. I took it as a compliment that he could relax under the spell of my playing.


One July evening I was giving an almost flawless rendition of "Come Back to Sorrento,"and myparents called me to an open window. An elderly neighbor, rarely seen outside her house, wasleaning against our car humming dreamily to the tune. When I finished, she smiled broadly andcalled out, "I remember that song as a child in Italy. Beautiful, just beautiful."


Throughout the summer, Mr. Zelli's lessons grew more difficult. It took me a week and a half tomaster them now. All the while I could hear my buddies outside playing heated games ofstickball. I'd also hear an occasional taunt: "Hey, where's your monkey and cup?


Such humiliation paled, though, beside the impending fall recital, I would have to play a soloon a local movie theater's stage. I wanted to skip the whole thing. Emotions boiled over in thecar one Sunday afternoon.


"I don't want to play a solo," I said.


"You have to," replied my father.


"Why?" I shouted. "Because you didn't get to play your violin when you were a kid? Whyshould I have to play this stupid instrument when you never had to play yours7"Dad pulled thecar over and pointed at me.


"Because you can bring people joy. You can touch their hearts. That's a gift I won't let youthrow away." He added softly, "Someday you'll have chance I never had: you'll play beautifulmusic for your family. And you understand why you've worked so hard."


I was speechless. I had rarely heard Dad speak with such feeling about anything, much less theaccordion. From then on, I practiced without parents' making me.


The evening of the concert Mom wore glittery earrings and more makeup than I couldremember. Dad got out of work early, put on a suit and tie, and slicked down his hair withVitalis. They were an hour early, so we sat in the living room chatting nervously. I got theunspoken message that playing this one song was a dream come true for them.


At the theater nervousness overtook me as I realized how much I wanted to make my parentsproud. Finally, it was my turn. I walked to the lone chairon stage and performed "Are YouLonesome Tonight?" without a mistake. The applause spilled out, with a few hands still clappingafter others hadstopped. I was lightheaded, glad my ordeal was over.


After the concert Mom and Dad came backstage. The way they walked—heads high, facesflushed—I knew they were pleased. My mother gave me a big hug. Dad slipped an arm aroundme and held me close. "You were just great," he said. Then he shook my hand and was slow tolet it go.


As the years went by, the accordion drifted to the background of my life. Dad asked me to playat family occasions, but the lessons stopped. When I went to college, the accordion stayedbehind in the hall closet next to my father's violin.


A year after my graduation, my parents moved to a house in a nearby town. Dad, at 51, finallyowned his own home. On moving day, I didn't have the heart to tell him he could dispose ofthe accordion, so I brought it to my own home and put it in the attic.


There it remained, a dusty memory until one afternoon several years later when my two childrendiscovered it by accident. Scott thought it was secret treasure; Holly thought a ghost livedinside. They were both right.


When I opened the case, they laughed and said, "play it, play it." Reluctantly,I strapped on theaccordion and played some simple songs. I was surprised! my skills hadn't rusted away. Soonthe kids were dancing in circles and giggluig. Even my wife, Terri, was laughing and clapping tothe beat. I wa samazed at their unbridled glee.


My father's words came back to me: "Someday you'll have the chance I never had. Then you'IIunderstand."I finally knew what it meant to work hard and sacrifice for others. Dad had beenright all along: the most precious gift is to touch the hearts of those you love.

这时,父亲的话又回到我的脑海:“总有一天你会有我从来没有的机会。那时你就会明白的。” 我终于明白了为他人努力工作和做出牺牲的意义。爸爸始终是对的:打动你所爱的人的心才是最宝贵的礼物。

Later I phoned Dad to let him know that, at long last, I understood. Fumbling for the rightwords, I thanked him for the legacy it took almost 30 years to discover. "You're welcome," hesaid, his voice choked with emotion.


Dad never learned to coax sweet sounds from his violin. Yet he was wrong to think he wouldnever for his family. On that wonderful evening, as my wife and children laughed and danced,they heard my accordion. But it was my father's music.


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