So now you all know the news – I’m pregnant! But there will only be one more mention of that condition in this post (and only to excuse away my superfluous emotions) – I hope that as I try to prioritize writing in this little corner of my world again that I won’t dwell entirely on my current change of situation – but no promises.
Tonight, under the Friday Night Lights at a high school in west central Florida, a 14 year legacy came to a close. The legacy of my Band Dad.
I marched in my high school marching band beginning the summer before my 8th grade year, stumbling around the field with my clarinet and a broken toe. Later I would learn things about those years that had he known, my Dad would march right out there and take me home; for instance, I was once told we wee rookies were under the watchful eye of the Senior Trombone section, taking bets on who would be among the hot senior band goddesses, once they survived high school and puberty. I don’t remember a lot about my parent’s involvement that year, but I’m sure it was plenty considering that I couldn’t drive yet, so getting me back and forth to twice a day practices was enough to earn them a gold star. We had a great year and a huge band – because everyone wanted to be a part of what came after that official band season ended in November. After raising lots of money selling wrapping paper and pizzas, that December my dad put me on a yellow school bus that took me three hours to Raleigh, NC, where I was then whisked away on a jetplane to London for our high school’s first trip to march in the NY Day Parade on another continent! I was terrified to travel “alone” and I came home with the flu and a double ear infection, but it was an experience I will never forget (and probably never let my own kids go on alone in 8th grade – especially not knowing what I know now about what happened in those mile-high bathrooms and under those generously-provided airline fleeces – I went on to date one of those Senior Trombonists later in high school and the things he told me about that trans-Atlantic trip probably scarred me for life, or at least the remainder of high school).
There is just one bit of my second year I remember – I was a ninth grader, trying to catch on to high school and keep up with the grueling schedule of a band geek, and my Dad stood by with the chauffeuring again. But I remember idolizing the Megans. Our two senior drum majors. And so I made a point at the end of our season to become one of them.
I remember Dad got really involved the next year…I was one of three drum majors, and it was a year fraught with learning to lead seniors as a sophomore, wardrobe malfunctions, and bleeding heels. That’s right, I spent the entire first football game on the back of an ambulance having my feet taped back together from the backs of my shoes shredding my heels. I performed the show that night completely barefoot, except for the gauze and tape wrapped around my ankle (if you didn’t know better, you would have thought I had broken it the way they wrapped me up). I can’t remember if Dad got involved in the pit crew that season, but he was always around to help me hide inside my cape while I adjusted my stick-on bra (that only last like two performances before I just went without), hold my mirror while I applied last minute makeup, and make sure that I had a ride for every practice for one more season – at least as a drum major I was there during the afternoon break so he only had to make one round trip a day.
Dad was there again in my junior year, listening as I complained about being a major with two other girls, whose cycles synced and hormones raged most of the time – we were always two against one, it was just the combination that always changed. We had more wardrobe malfunctions, more fights about shoes, and more fun than you could possibly imagine. I think Dad was bummed I didn’t need a ride all the time anymore, so instead he got really involved in the pit crew, making sure I wouldn’t fall off my rickety podium in front of thousands of spectators. Plus, my sister marched that year, so he had two of us to cheer for.
My senior year was the one I remember most vividly – most of the wardrobe rage turned into plain stubbornness and we fought through and had our best year as majors. Dad again joined the pit crew and his involvement brought extra special perks…I will never forget my senior night, as I saluted the crowd for our performance and approached my podium to find a dozen red roses waiting there for me. That’s my Daddy – see he got to be responsible for the set up of those podiums, so he got access to leave me something extra special. I feigned confusion, mostly I think so that I wouldn’t fight tears. I left them there (because I couldn’t run with them from one station to another) and Daddy brought them to me at the end of the show. If I remember correctly, he did that twice during my tenure as a major, and it always made me feel extra special – because I had something nobody else did…my Dad.
Now five years committed, my Dad would go on to send my sister to London the following year, even though they moved three hours away to a new school (he had committed to letting her go and the band director was more than happy to let her come back and tag along), and watch her march five years from the pit crew again before her senior night as a flutist, then my brother marched as trumpet (and major, I think? I’m a bad sister who didn’t pay much attention when away at college), and finally, my baby brother would march 3 years at that same high school – Dad reigning as the king of band parents as the Band Booster President. This summer, my family moved again, this time to Wesley Chapel, and my brother informed us before the move that he wasn’t interested in marching his senior year at a new school. But after realizing his duty to uphold the family name (kidding, but seriously, dodging out on the last year of our bandgeek domination?!?), he changed his mind and headed off to band camp to make some new friends before the school year started.
Dad texted me tonight to tell me that after 14 seasons, the family legacy had ended quietly. I could tell from the tone of his words on the screen that he was a little disappointed that rather than toting xylophones and balancing bingo budgets, he simply met my brother in front of the thirty-five yard line and walked the gauntlet of seniordom from 35 to 35 with him to recognize his final year of dedication to marching music. But let’s face it, there are very few good quarterbacks still playing 14 years in, not too many pop stars who achieve greatness 14 years from their first hit – and my family is in such a different place now than they were at the turn of the millennium. I teared up (pregnant, remember?) as I reflected on roses and ambulances, disappointing defeats and Grand Champion giddiness with my chauffeur to relive the whole show with on my long ride home.
I am so proud of my Dad for his fourteen year career – sure the last year might not have been his hey-day, but being our Dad on senior night was the most important part. There aren’t too many dads out there who get as involved as he did in just one kid’s activities – to do so for fourteen years is truly admirable. To my Dad – the best Band Dad ever. Thanks for the support and for the memories.
Shoe Shopping just took on a whole new meaning….