One of the first songs I wrote in my songwriting class was “Advocates in Heaven.” The idea of the song is about losing those closest to you as life moves on until one day you feel as if you have few, if any, advocates on earth, which could feel devastating until you remember you now have advocates in Heaven.
This morning as I ate my cantaloupe I was reminded of one of those advocates. We called him “Papa” and he was my grandmother’s second husband. They married a week after I was born. In fact, he liked to brag that his car was the first car I ever rode in. At the time, my father was stationed overseas in the Naval AirForce.
I could do no wrong in Papa’s eyes, and I think that influenced my grandmother’s opinion of me, too, and that kept my mother in check. Any mis behavior on her part would have to be hidden or at least escape my grandmother’s eyes.
I spent a lot of time at my grandparents’ – we’d start the day off with Papa’s favorite breakfast of cantaloupe and toast, he’d leave for work and later I’d ride shotgun as my grandmother drove all over Southern California delivering bras, make-up, vitamins, and lingerie to her customers. We’d stop for lunch at Sizzler, which was a big deal back then. Most families I knew back then rarely went out to eat unless it was a some burger or taco joint that SoCal is known for.
My grandmother wasn’t much of a cook so dinner was something simple like popcorn and iced tea or tacos or burritos or so me other Southwestern/Mexican food if Papa was in charge. She would go to bed early and Papa and I would stay up late watching Westerns. He’d regale me with scintillating stories of living the life of a cowboy in Arizona and his daughter and my step dad doing their homework together back in high school in the Central Valley (yes, my step dad was once married to his daughter). I was introduced to country music through Papa and I first read “Coal Miner’s Daughter” by borrowing his copy.
Of Irish descent, he was quite the storyteller. He seemed to recall precise conversations from the distant past, although my mother insisted he embellished them, which is probably true. He was just a storyteller. He reminded me of Roger Craig, the manager for the SF Giants when I first moved to the SF Bay Area.
Today I’m missing my Papa and other advocates now in Heaven. You don’t realize their influence and how they kept things in order until they’re no longer with us on here on earth.
Maybe I’ll rewrite the song and weave him into the story.