The compass of a young man's life is often found in the silent gestures given by a father. The lifting of the chin, crinkles at the corner of the mouth, a hand placed firmly upon the shoulder letting the young man know his course in life is true. To loose a father at this critical moment is to be cast adrift in conversations never had. This was my brother upon loosing his father at the age of 15.
My mother, awash in endings that would never happen, went about her days without awareness. She didn't notice her son struggling to find his way. She barely paid attention when John asked her to drop him off at the airport. "Stay with your school group, and send me a postcard." John was on his way to Europe.
Asked by the French couple sitting next to him on the plane was he was traveling alone, my brother revealed he had lied to his mother about spending the summer in London with his school's choir group. He just needed distance from her grief to sort through his own thoughts. The couple offered a suggestion.
John spent the first month of the summer aboard the couple's boat sailing the turquoise waters off the coast of southern France. Brown as a butternut, John was deposited at the end of the month in Nice. With only a change of clothes in his backpack and money nearly gone, John looked for a way to earn fare home. The sound of music offered him a way.
John followed his opportunity into an establishment he was too young to enter and waited for the band playing to take a break. "Can I sit in on one song, I play the piano?" John let his fingers express all that he had wanted to say to his Dad. He didn't want to follow his father's path into the military, he wanted to pursue music. John's playing was such a success with the patrons of the bar, the band agreed to hire him for a season's work.
My brother knows our father would have greatly disapproved of his decision to pursue music as a career and yet it was the path chosen the summer spent abroad. It was the summer of every young man who recognizes the strength of character given to them by a father is meant to help them stand on their own, trusting in the faith of a father's love to know their course is true.
This little bird is Percy Faith, the choir director of Creative Breathing.