*[Christmastime Drunk Blogging Warning Level = 5] God, I miss the Old Man. More than ever this week. But I know it’s not random. I miss him especially because I’m finally getting to take possession of his beautiful French Selmer tenor saxophone, and that sax has history.
A good-looking and brilliant electrical engineer by trade, the Old Man was all about music. Well, music and beautiful cars and beautiful women. That made him a normal post-war American man, I suppose. But his love of music made him extraordinary.
Perhaps that’s what won over my mother. In the 1950s, it would have been the guitar and his voice that seduced her. The saxophone was HIS father’s instrument. Granddad had played an old beat up Selmer during the depression to earn a living in speak-easies and clubs all across the south and the midwest, especially in the winter when the other jobs were scarce. He played next to bluesmen and jazz musicians who went on to greatness, but I will never know their names, even though I’m sure I listen to their recordings now, because I never asked him when I had the chance. No, that’s not really true. I had the chance. I traveled with him extensively and spent so much time with him that I now miss him even more than my own father. But, I didn’t know what to ask him, so I didn’t.
His son, my Old Man, has also been gone now for a few years. And now I possess his saxophone, an instrument that has been played by both men, and I’ve at least had the pleasure of seeing my Old Man play it in concert with his jazz band. But suddenly, this is a heavy weight.
I’ve been comfortable being the patriarch of a large extended family now for some time. But this. This is hard. I’ve somewhat mastered the rest. Because it’s what my oldest “Old Man,” The Lord God, required first, I have managed some success and respect in my professional field, and my family is modestly large, happy, growing and secure, including the Old Man’s wife, my mother, who has just handed off this treasure to me, with a smile.
But it’s not my instrument yet. I’m a clarinet and piano man. I’m gonna have to learn. But I will learn. And it will get played. And somebody, even if not me, will play it well again. Because that’s how the Old Men want to be remembered, and I know they’ll be listening.