I believe in you

My oldest son can recite every word to Sir-Mix-a-Lot's Big Butts anytime it comes on the radio. He starts out kind of quiet, unsure he is hitting all the right words in rhythm. By the end, though, he is blurting out "little in the middle but she got much back" like a boss. He has also mastered Coolio's Gangsta's Paradise and Regulate by Warren G. Add in the fact that he has no interest in Miley Cyrus or Beiber and I am one proud Dad.

I heard the song "I believe in you" by Don Williams last week, and it took me back in time. Something about his smooth yet gravely tone reminds me of my Grandpa Slusher, and I was suddenly in a blue and gray two tone Chevy Van riding down Mohler Road in Goshen, listening to my father's father belt out "Friends in Low Places" when Garth was just an up and comer. That was a moment I never forgot, probably the only moment in my life I remember connecting with that man.

As Don told me he "liked to think of God as love, he's down below, he's up above" my mind went from that moment with Brad Slusher to the bedroom floor of the house Mom shared with the Monster in the early 80's. I had my orange Corvette hot wheel, pretending it was the General Lee, tracing the patterns of the berber carpet and pretending I was out running Roscoe. The I heard the motorcycle, and I hid behind the door until I was sure that he wasn't in a beating mood, which he always was.

I grew up listening to old country music. When the other kids were wearing Duran Duran t-shirts to school, I was listening to Ronnie Milsap, Alabama, and the Oak Ridge Boys. My Mom sang in a country band, and I loved listening to her croon Patsy Cline and Anne Murray songs as we listened from the other room. Now, whenever I hear Crazy or You Needed me, I hear her singing right along

As I listened to the classic song by Don Williams, I wondered what songs would remind my boys of me long after I am gone. Would it be one of the songs JM knows by heart, or a Linkin Park track that they all have asked me to play in the car? Or perhaps they will remember the 1000 times I have told them never to turn off Stairway by Zeppelin if it comes on the radio.

Only time will tell. I do hope that they develop those same types of memories and that someday, when a song plays on their iPod or computer or whatever device provides their music then, they will understand why I say music is the soundtrack of life.

Today is Memorial Day. As we say thank you to current and past military members for the freedoms they provide, I pause to remember my birth father. While I never knew TSGT John "Mike" Slusher as well as I would have liked, I am proud to bear his name. And I am proud to pass it to my sons. While my mother gave me a love of music, he introduced me to Stairway to Heaven, which is far and away my favorite song of all time. Not only that, but it is also a preferred tune of his three grandsons as well.

Day #448. Thursday TSGT Slusher will have been gone for 18 years. I never got to ask him so many questions I have. And he never met my sons. And while that is a part of them they will never know, I am eternally grateful that his absence growing up meant having the Dad that I did, the man my boys know as their Poppa. It is truly good to be me.


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