Wednesday, April 6, 2016

She tried so hard to fill his shoes

I don't normally get effusive about dead celebrities.

They're people. They die. The thing any of us are attached to is left behind.

And I don't really plan on getting all blubbery about Merle Haggard dying today, but his death has definitely reminded me of the power of music to connect people in a way few other things can.

By now, a lot of you know my mother and I were not close when I was growing up. I don't want to spend a post disparaging the woman so I will simply leave it at: until my dad died about ten years ago she really wasn't a part of my life.

Growing up, that sucked. But one of the things I carried with me about her was that she loved Merle Haggard. At least, in my mind she did. I remember her listening to him and calling him Merle The Pearl.

So, sometime around the age of 10 I grabbed hold of that bit of her and made it a part of me. I loved Merle Haggard because for so much of my life he was the only part of my mom that I could hold onto.

That's how powerful music can be. It can take someone you love and who should love you and make them a little bit closer in spite of them. Even when I hated her - and I did for a long time - I would hear Merle The Pearl I would feel not so far away from her.

Sometime around nine years ago I bought a couple of Merle Haggard CDs. By then mom was back and making an honest effort to show up every day. I would play Merle when I was alone, usually on a long drive, and talk to him much the way I am talking to the three or four of  you. I would tell him all the things that still scared the shit out of me about that woman. And he would sing to me and soothe me and make me almost believe that this time it was going to be different with her.

So far he's been right.

It was a strange relationship Merle and I had. I'm glad I still have the music.

Titty sprinkles!

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