Friday, January 31, 2014

In honor of William (Bill, Will, Willie) Balkovec, 1925 - 2014

In honor of William (Bill, Will, Willie) Balkovec, 1925 - 2014


The Leader of the Band by Dan Fogelberg

The leader of the band is tired
And his eyes are growing old
But his blood runs through my instrument
And his song is in my soul
My life has been a poor attempt
To imitate the man
I'm just a living legacy
To the leader of the band

I thank you for the music
And your stories of the road
I thank you for the freedom
When it came my time to go
I thank you for the kindness
And the times when you got tough
And, papa, I don't think I
Said 'I love you' near enough

The leader of the band is tired
And his eyes are growing old
But his blood runs through my instrument
And his song is in my soul
My life has been a poor attempt
To imitate the man
I'm just a living legacy
To the leader of the band



This song reminds me of my Daddy. Not because he was ever a band leader, but because of his love of music, especially the music of the Big Bands of the 40s and early 50s. Lately, the stanza about thanks has meant a lot to me.

I am grateful for his love of music and the exposure to it in our house. I am thankful to know who Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw, Bunny Berrigen, Fred Waring, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Eddy Duchin, Count Basie, Glenn Gray, Duke Ellington, Sammy Kaye, Louis Jordan, and many others I'm sure I've forgotten, are. I might have been one of the few kids in my age group to know the words to songs like "Skylark", or "Pennsylvania 6-5000", or "Chattanooga Choo-choo".

My daddy's stories were not "of the road", but rather of his times playing baseball, or times growing up with his family, or his friends in the Army. He always had stories to tell. Only in the last couple of years did I listen intently. I am sorry for not listening with greater appreciation through the years. 

We left Pittsburgh several times over the last few years and each time it was with my Dad's blessing. So, indeed, I thank him for "the freedom when it came my time to go". And I thank him especially for telling me when I needed to come home.

My Daddy was almost always kind. He stood up for me when others did not. He may not have always understood my choices, but he loved me enough to always have my back. I hope he knew how much that meant to me. I can't say Daddy got tough with me too many times, but there are a couple that stand out in my memory. Those were turning points to a better relationship between us, I think.

As to whether I told him I loved him enough…I did not. I don't think "I love you" was a phrase used in our house when I was growing up. Consequently, I never told my Dad I loved him until I was 25. And I was afraid to say it. Amazingly, once it was out there, that first time, and Daddy responded with, "I love you, too, kid," there was never anything holding back our mutual "I love you". Still, "Papa, I don't think I said 'I love you' near enough".  


The leader of our family has moved beyond this life. He was tired. Not just his eyes, but all of him. At Thanksgiving, I told him that some people with his disease live up to 6 years after the initial diagnosis. His response, was, "Well, I hope not, kid." This last year of his life exhausted his reserves. 

But, his blood, does run through each of his children. His songs live on in our hearts and souls. And I think I speak for each of us when I say that, indeed, our lives have been a poor attempt to imitate the man - a good, loving, caring, kind-hearted man, whom we were blessed to call our Dad. I pray we are a legacy of which he was proud.
   




2 comments:

  1. Very nice tribute to your father. I send you my deepest sympathy.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you. I miss him so much.

    ReplyDelete