Frank Sinatra, you’ve been served! I imagine this Father’s Day there may be a “sing off” going down inside the pearly gates where Rat Pack crowd cigar smoke doesn’t stink and carries with crooning over the clouds.
I put Google to work early this morning to do its stuff and after a few keystrokes it quickly served up the lyrics to “My Way” by Frank Sinatra. Though appreciative of Sinatra’s music I am not a “fan” in regards to personal ownership of any of his tunes nor do I know any of them by heart. My Dad, however, loved that song in particular and when occasions arose for him to dust off his Karaoke King crown it was one of his two favorite “go to’s”. We played that song at his memorial and it amazed me how prolific the words were, perfect for his “swan song”.
My full family went on a short, Caribbean cruise together several years ago, generously gifted by my parents to celebrate my dad’s retirement together. Predictably one of my dad’s favorite activities sailing with my mom on their umpteen cruises was the onboard karaoke. I thought this was pretty hilarious. My Dad doing karaoke – you MUST be kidding! Can’t wait to tell my friends about this! Ha, ha, ha, and blah, blah, blah.
Let me tell you what – he FLOORED them! Yes, if there was no age limit, my Dad could truly have been the next American Idol! Well, that and a makeover. Sorry, Dad. Your tragic wardrobe choices, most notably the shiny, silver Keds with the dark dress socks and plaid shorts, live on in infamy But I digress.
I very begrudgingly went to see him “perform”. Although I didn’t let my folks know that was the adjective I would have used I’m certain they were wise to it but appreciative of my attendance all the same. I went into the lounge being used for this hokey pastime and took a seat. The girls performing upon my arrival were tipsy, young, and giddy…..and just plain AWFUL, exactly the performance one would expect from cruise ship karaoke. Painful to sit through.
When the warbling, drunken, trio’s song blessedly came to a close the Cruise Director called out a man’s name whose companions apparently had signed him up without his knowledge because he adamantly refused to do it while his friends caused a jolly scene, egging him on to no avail. Dad was next in line and offered to go ahead. Problem solved.
Here we go. Keep a straight face. I know I can do it.
He. Was. AMAZING!
“And nowwwwwwwwww……the time is near……”
BEAUTIFUL!! He sounded BEAUTIFUL!
All of the sudden the attending crew member broke out these slowly spinning, multi-colored spotlights on him. Ambiance, why thank you.
The room got quiet. He sang like a tenor angel.
His first round of the chorus, “I did it myyyyyyyyyyy waaaaaaay.”, had the audience erupting in applause & whistles. He was a supahstah! As he continued singing there were occasional whoops and whistles, and even one loud & enthusiastic “YEAHHHHHH, BOB!” from the back of the room (they had introduced him by his first name before he began.).
As the song and my papa songbird came to a close, I kid you not, he got a heartfelt standing ovation from everyone in the room. There was no denying – it wasn’t just me – he was incredible. I have never been so proud of my father as I was at that moment and I will never forget it. It is, without a doubt, something that will make me smile in 30 years as it does now while I remember and write.
The following day I participated in some additional cruise ship fodder, some type of trivia game where I was paired with an older couple who looked to be around their 60’s. As we chatted casually they mentioned how they were just in that same lounge the day before and I said I was too, to see my Dad sing karaoke. Turns out that’s why they had been there too. The woman asked what my Dad sang and I said, “My Way” and she exclaimed, “FRANK? Your Dad is FRANK???” and began acting like a wrinkled school girl!
Again, I smile even bigger now. I wonder if there’s groupies in heaven?
And now, the end is near
And so I face the final curtain
My friend, I’ll say it clear
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain
I’ve lived a life that’s full
I’ve traveled each and every highway
But more, much more than this
I did it my way
Regrets, I’ve had a few
But then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption
I planned each charted course
Each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way
Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew
But through it all, when there was doubt
I ate it up and spit it out
I faced it all and I stood tall
And did it my way
I’ve loved, I’ve laughed and cried
I’ve had my fill my share of losing
And now, as tears subside
I find it all so amusing
To think I did all that
And may I say – not in a shy way
Oh no, oh no, not me
I did it my way
For what is a man, what has he got
If not himself, then he has naught
To say the things he truly feels
And not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows
And did it my way
Yes, it was my way
(My favorite picture of my dad, sitting inside a giant bubble maker that he made)