Voice Mail 1 week old

[Warning – heavy duty sap ahead. Prepare to evacuate this posting if your cynicism levels are at or above average today. Seriously, think “my dead cat” postings.  Proceed with caution. And don’t say I didn’t warn you!]

When I picked up my voice mail, this is what I heard:

Happy Birthday to you           (“Hey it’s Dad!” I said to myself)

May you never suffer from hunger

may you always have a birthday one month late

so you’re always one month younger.

Now… it may not seem like much to you, scansion is a bit whack (a “bit”!?!) and the rhyme is a bit lame. And it is a full month late (because about 2 years ago dad decided to move my b’day to February so I’d stop whining about the whole Xmas/B’day issue.)

But after his stroke I never thought my dad would sing me another birthday song again.

[Warning – it gets worse below the fold. And there’s bad doggeral too. This is not for the faint-of-heart, or anyone that ever, ever believed I was hip in anyway. Turn back. The bridge is out. Stop reading. Seriously.]

Dad is a musician you see. He plays banjo and guitar.  He has always had an amazing gift for learning and retaining lyrics.  Thousands and thousands of them.

All my life he has sung to me and with me. We’ve sung when cooking, we’ve sung when walking down the path, we’ve sung when we are playing cards.  We’ve sung when we are happy, we’ve sung when we are sad, we’ve sung when we are bored. We’ve sung when we can’t quite get the words right any other way or when it’s just more fun to say it with a tune.

We often make up really really poor songs together.  For example our rendition of “Summertime” starts “Summertime, and the laundry is easy” and our rework of “Waltzing with Bears” turned into a pseudo-tribute to my newly found cousin Charlene – “Howling with Dogs”

We gave uncle Jimmy a big jug of grog

He sucked it all back like a big hairy hog

Now we have to sit through one of his monologues

We wish uncle Jimmy’d go howling with dogs

He goes “ar-rar-rar-rooo”, howling with dogs

shaggy dogs, baggy dogs, scraggy dogs too

Oh there’s nothing on earth uncle Jimmy won’t do

So he can go howling


He can go howling

howling with dogs.

But one of the things that got impacted by the stroke was dad’s ability to recall lyrics.  And one of the happiest days during rehab for me was when he sang a silly little two line verse at me while we were playing cards.  It was the first time he had sung in almost 2 weeks, and we were all terrified he wouldn’t be able to.

I knew he’d been working on his music. But I can’t tell you how much it meant to me to hear him sing me a stupid little birthday song.

The best part is – he’ll never read this post, so he won’t punch me in the arm and tell me what a sap I am.

Alexa Clark

Alexa is a digital marketer and author with over 20 years in digital & interactive communications in the food and tech industries. Alexa's CheapEats Restaurant Guides, for both Toronto & Ottawa, were Canadian best sellers. She is a recognized authority on social media and has been named one of Canada's 20 Leading Women in Social Media.

One thought on “Voice Mail 1 week old

  • February 20, 2006 at 3:44 pm

    I’ll never, ever, forget those three days on Moose Island, and the amazing music we heard. You are breaking my heart with this post, Lex.
    Please give Jim lots of love from us — Heather & Malcolm


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