Happy Father’s Day From San Francisco, Daddy-o

 When my dad played “What a Wonderful World” at my and Chris’s wedding, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house (or, rather, on the beach). The trumpet he played is the same one he’s had since high school, battered and banged up and yet, by virtue of its history and the person playing it, [...]

Its a Wonderful World

 When my dad played “What a Wonderful World” at my and Chris’s wedding, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house (or, rather, on the beach).

The trumpet he played is the same one he’s had since high school, battered and banged up and yet, by virtue of its history and the person playing it, perfectly beautiful. When he opened the case for an early practice session I happened to be there for, I caught a glimpse of a dusty old Bayer bottle inside.

It struck me as odd that a high school student would be forward-thinking enough to tuck a bottle of aspirin into his musical case to ward off headaches. Turns out, the bottle held something far more interesting — whiskey, my dad explained, to ward off potential nerves before performing.

He only dipped into it one time, he told me, before some big concert that he of course aced. After trumpet in high school, he taught himself piano and guitar, the latter of which provided the family entertainment when the power would go out many years ago. My mom would light the candles, my dad would pull out his guitar, and my brother and me would listen, enchanted, as this rarely seen side of our father would come alive, his fingers dancing over the strings.

He sang as he played, too, songs I didn’t know but painted a vivid picture in my mind. Especially “San Francisco Blues,” which talks about a lovesick fellow whose girl has left his sorry ass — rightfully and dramatically so — and sailed away on an ocean liner after he admittedly treated her bad.

I’ve logged a fair share of miles walking around San Francisco since moving here almost a year ago. And wherever I go, my dad’s voice singing that song always seems to ring in my head, not so much because of the meaning behind it, but the fact that I’m living in the very same city where it takes place. Especially the line “I ain’t got a nickel, and I ain’t got a lousy dime” — perhaps because San Francisco, awesome as it is, is doing its best to bankrupt us.

San Francisco is about 2,500 miles away from Florida, where my parents live, but I want to wish a Happy Father’s Day to my incredible dad, Bob (Daddy-o, to me), and all the innumerable ways he’s busted his hump for his family. Despite the distance, I know he’ll always be there for me, whenever I need him.

And that’s an unparalleled kind of comfort, kind of like a Bayer aspirin bottle full of whiskey, quietly tucked into a trumpet case.

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