First autumn morning
the mirror I stare into
shows my father’s face.
– Murakami Kijo
It was 1965.
I was eight years old, my sister Mary nine.
We lived in a small town on Long Island, New York, two blocks away from the Criterion movie theatre.
Mary and I went to the Saturday matinee almost every week.
One Saturday my father came with us, for the first and only time, to see The Sound of Music.
When the film began I sat transfixed. Not on the movie, but on my father’s face. his eyes lit up from the screen.
He looked like a child watching Maria sing and twirl in snow capped mountains.
My father leaned in close, Do you think those mountains are real, he asked with popcorn scented breath.
Yes, I said with great authority, not sure of anything at all.
I longed for someone like Maria to come into my life, someone to take me high into the mountains where we’d
throw our arms open wide to the cloudless sky and sing happy songs about the world being alive with the sound of music.
I knew one day I’d get to those mountains, out beyond the sounds of my small suburban town, beyond the sounds of discontent, beyond the sounds of violence and wars.
The Sound of Music became the soundtrack of my youth. My father played the record all the time.
I didn’t know he was searching for his song, that he was fighting a war within himself, that he was locked into a life he never wanted.
We both loved music and I hope we sang together, at least once.
But I don’t think so.
So yesterday, on a quiet Sunday afternoon, I opened my arms wide and sang Edelweiss to my father in heaven.
I sang from a place of contentment,
sang from a place of deep peace,
sang from a place where my world was alive with the sound of music.