It would be impossible to summarize the events of the past few weeks by solely relying on words. I could say these past few weeks have been crazy, demanding, draining, or taxing – but those words just wouldn’t do justice to the weeks we have had. I am tempted to find an image that would suffice, but even an image of someone pulling out their hair in fistfuls at the roots would not do justice to the emotions that have run wild over the past few weeks. So, in this case, I must turn to my crutch; the one thing that, if stranded on a desert island I would not chose to be without, music.
Let me rewind for a minute. The Carlon family has some big decisions to make – decisions that we will announce in due time. In the background, however, lurks a curveball that none of us anticipated. The big question is – do we swing at the pitch or “take” it? In little league and high school I was always told to take the first pitch – no matter how good it was. I didn’t understand this; then again, I wasn’t what you might call a star player. In my defense, I could hit the ball like Roy Hobbs when the pressure was off (i.e. in the back yard), but when the pressure was on I was “king whiff.”
I suppose the logic was not to give the pitcher any satisfaction that you would swing at anything. Well, life isn’t as nice as it is on the playing field. When you grow up, there are no coaches telling you what to do, no one to give you obscure signs telling you to swing, bunt, or steal (in my head I am touching my ear lobes, dragging my right hand across my chest, clapping my hands, pretending to rub dirt off my quads, and pinching my nose). So without a coach present, I am keeping my eye on the ball and swinging at that pitch with every ounce of energy that I have.
Rewind over, back to present day. You should all know that I am writing this on the balcony of a suite at the Westlake Village Inn in Westlake Village, California. I was in Southern California on business this week and my wife Nicole met me out here. This year marks our 15th wedding anniversary – my my how time flies. On the way out here, the lovely Nicole heard a song playing on the plane as she boarded her flight from NY to LA; A Kiss to Build a Dream On as performed by none other than Louis Armstrong (Mick Carlon take notice). It just so happens that this was the song my wife picked to dance with her father to at our wedding. Gordon Hart was a GREAT man. He was the real deal – a man with principles and the courage of his convictions. He also always offered me a beer whenever I would visit his daughter- even before I was 21.
I loved that man and miss him every day and I know that his daughter does as well. Fortunately his spirit lives on in my son, who everyone says is the spitting image of me, but if you saw a picture of a young Gordon L Hart (the L stands for Lee), you would swear that he and Patrick were separated at birth. Last night Nicole and I went to dinner with some of my colleagues from LA and, while we were seated at dinner, in the background you could hear the unmistakable voice of “Pops” sing those words, “a kiss to build a dream on.” These words were of course followed by the unmistakable trumpet playing notes corresponding to the syllables sung by “the Great Satchmo.”
Just like St. Peter in the early morning of Good Friday, we heard this song a third time while waiting to be seated for dinner this evening. Now would be a good time to tell you that my late father in law was a huge fan of Louis Armstrong. In fact, while in the Navy when the other officers would go find some “entertainment” for the evening, my father in law would find a Jazz club somewhere and get lost in the music. His daughter knew of his love for Louis Armstrong and that is why she picked A Kiss to Build a Dream On as the father/daughter dance at our wedding.
While reflecting on this tonight, we have come to the conclusion that good old Gordon is still looking after his daughter (and his son-in-law) from another time and place. It’s almost as if he is saying to us, “Now now, everything is going to be alright. Just have a little faith, trust your heart, and follow the dream that started with a kiss 15 years ago. Oh, by the way, Mike – do you want a beer?”