55: The Sounds of Music

55: The Sounds of Music

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Recovering from Traumatic Brain Injuries

The Sounds of Music

A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.

~Lou Holtz

My dad has always been an impromptu singer and whistler. During any given conversation, he need hear but a word and he will belt out a tune, made up or otherwise, to fit the word he just heard. As a young girl, I remember playing with friends during summer break and hearing a familiar whistle coming from at least a block away; it was my dad, driving toward home, windows down and whistling as loud as he could. Trying to sleep at night, a sudden song would wake me up. Dad was getting ready for bed, and of course, I would whine that he was too loud for me to sleep. Out in public, my dad would start to sing or whistle anywhere or anytime he felt like breaking out in song. How annoying and embarrassing my sister, brother and I thought it was!

One particular day when Dad was singing his best and loudest tune, I asked my mother, “How can you stand listening to Dad’s noisy singing and whistling all the time?” She responded, “I think of the day when I will no longer be able to hear it.” I thought about my mom’s response many times through the years as my dad’s voice would fill the world around me, but it wasn’t until a few months ago that those words would impact me in a way I never could imagine.

After my grandfather passed away, my dad purchased the family farm where he grew up. Then, a few years after my parents retired, they sold their house of nearly forty years, and moved into the house on the farm. I think no matter where my dad lived, he always considered the farm his “home.” It is beautiful there, with tree-filled hills and the constant babble of the creek. It seems that my dad is happiest when he is on the farm puttering in the field or fixing equipment. This is evident when you pull into the drive and see him walking to greet you in his overalls, a smile on his face, belting out a tune.

Now that my parents live on the farm, a two-hour drive away from me, I take every opportunity to see them when they come back to the city for an occasional doctor’s visit. One Friday in mid-March my parents were coming to town for such an appointment and we planned to meet for lunch around 11:00 a.m. I’m a night owl, and usually sleep until at least 9:00 a.m. Since many of my friends and family members seem to forget this fact, I tend to turn my phone ringer down or off at night. On this Friday I woke up to find the message light flashing on my phone, not unusual; the message from my mom however was unusual. She and Dad were already in town, and wouldn’t meet me for lunch. Dad had slipped on the ice, hit his head and was having emergency brain surgery. Many tears and prayers followed.

I cried out loud as I got dressed, threw on my heaviest winter coat and gloves and rushed off to the hospital. When I arrived, family members and friends were sitting with my mom. As they left one by one, my mom and I were alone; my brother and sister and their families live out of town. Within an hour, although it seemed like an eternity, the surgeon arrived with news that the surgery had gone well; he had removed the blood that had been creating pressure on Dad’s brain.

After putting out many prayer requests, and after a couple more hours of waiting, we finally got to see my dad. By then, my brother and one of my nieces had arrived. As we entered the room, we were very delighted to see a man, head wrapped in gauze, neck in a brace, but very alert and very talkative. One of the first things he asked his surgeon was: “Will this affect my singing voice?” Well that was a good sign; the surgeon was very optimistic and he even mentioned the possibility of going home the following Monday. What wonderful news!

Saturday, however, things weren’t going quite as planned and on Sunday morning my dad was having a second surgery. Again, I rushed to the hospital, driving with tear-filled eyes, and after many long hours of waiting, news finally came and we were able to see my dad. I was horrified when I first saw him, face swollen, not talking . . . definitely not thinking about singing. I couldn’t stay in the room. The surgeon’s words were, in effect, “wait and see.”

As the days passed there were slight improvements. Tears filled my eyes as I watched my dad struggle to walk and eat. Finally, after what seemed to be one of the longest weeks of my life, Dad was released to a rehab center. I wasn’t sure I agreed that he should be going quite so soon. The next day, as I started down the corridor to my dad’s room, I could hear a familiar voice singing in the distance. My dad was singing! I couldn’t believe it, nor could I believe my eyes when I first entered the room and saw the father I knew before his fall, except for the many bright blue stitches around his head. More tears, this time tears of joy, and prayers, prayers of thankfulness.

Through it all, my mom’s strength amazed me. Through long days spent in the hospital, rarely leaving my dad’s side, and the all-day trips to the rehab center, I never once saw her break down. How she kept her composure I’ll never know. Three weeks after my dad’s fall, thanks to family and friends, prayers and love, my mom was finally able to take my dad home.

Of course there’s still healing left for my dad, but one thing that has already healed is his singing and whistling. Today when I hear him singing in public, whistling while getting ready for bed, or singing “just because,” it is not an annoyance to me, but a comfort, for I now realize there will be a day when I won’t hear it again. But hopefully that day will not come for a very long time.

~Kristen JD Hyde

You are currently enjoying a preview of this book.

Sign up here to get a Chicken Soup for the Soul story emailed to you every day for free!

Please note: Our premium story access has been discontinued (see more info).

view counter

More stories from our partners