The Rainbow Connection
My Dads heart's been broken an inordinate number of times. Of course, most of those heartbreaks were probably his own doing. Just as his heart attacks have been mostly due to high stress, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure; I think his heartbreaks have been due to low self-esteem, low morale and low self-control.
But the thing about heartbreaks is, you've gotta love something a lot to be crushed by it. In my dad's case he has a flowing well of love for his kids, and he's got kids in spades. 5 from his first wife, 5 from his second wife (my mom), 2 steps from wife #3, 8 steps from wife #4 and I think 4 steps from #5. I consider myself fortunate to be one of only ten he personally sired (as far as we know).
The other night as I slept I gradually became aware of someone singing. It was the voice of Kermit the Frog singing "The Rainbow Connection." I hadn't thought of that song in years, but now I remembered all the lyrics. I lay in bed, in the dark warmth of thick blankets, arms around my 2 year old daughter (who absolutely refuses to sleep anywhere else), and the song repeated itself in my minds ear until dawn.
"... Have you been half asleep? And have you heard voices? I've heard them calling my name.
... Is this the sweet sound that calls the young sailors?
The voice might be one and the same"
I learned "The Rainbow Connection" in first grade for one of those programs they have kids put on for their parents. I sang my guts out. My mom was there. It was during the bitter first months separation prior to the divorce being final, so I don't blame Dad for not coming. Plus he would have missed a whole day of work to drive down from Salt Lake. But he used to tell us we could call him collect anytime. (This was back when we couldn't afford long distance.) So later that day I went to the school nurse for help with my grief and called him. He was probably at work, but I didn't know that number so I called his home. I got an answering machine-- first time I ever heard one. I thought it was something seedy, like if he had run out and bought a waterbed as soon as we moved out. Now I realize it was him missing us, and not wanting to miss our calls.
"Who said that every wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star?"
Dad almost never missed a weekend visit (or a child-support payment). Fridays after school Mom would load us up in the Toyota Corona station wagon and take us to the Park and Ride at the off-ramp just before the point of the mountain. Dad would meet us there in his white Cadillac ElDorado (another post-divorce waterbed-like acquisition) and drive us back to Salt Lake. We'd spend the night there, then meet back at the Park and Ride the next evening.
During these short road trips between Salt Lake and Provo, Dad always asked us to sing to him. "The Rainbow Connection" was immediately one of his favorites. We sang it for him over and over.
"What's so amazing that keeps us stargazing
And what do we think we might see?"
As I lay in bed the other night, I thought about my dad and how much sadness must have filled his life back then. Knowing how much joy I have in my own children, I suddenly had a better taste of what my dad must have felt back then, desperately wanting to remain a part of our daily lives, but demoted to weekends and holidays.
"Rainbows are visions, but only illusions,
And rainbows have nothing to hide.
So we've been told and some choose to believe it
I know they're wrong, wait and see."
I'm not as close to my dad as I'd like. Sure, we talk, we have our heart-to-hearts, but there's something missing. We don't really know eachother. Quality time is important, but it can't replace the experience of actually living with someone. Now that I'm an adult, I can see it clearly. I grew up, but I didn't grow up with my dad. We missed it. We missed out on eachother. And I don't know whether that can be recovered. Dad probably knew this back then, as he mourned this loss times five and slept alone in a queen size bed-- the steady light of an answering machine for company, but it has taken me 25 years to realize it. As I tried to sleep, I hugged my little daughter a little tighter and shed silent tears in her hair.
"Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection,
The lovers, the dreamers, and me."