It feels unfair to my three or so loyal readers to explain only at this late date that an increasing portion of my distraction these last few months, and especially since my previous post of January 17, can be attributed to the failing health of my father, Duncan James MacLeod, who passed away a little more than two weeks ago. He had experienced congestive heart failure in December, and on March 12th had been taken to an emergency room by ambulance after an initial complaint of unbearable abdominal pain, which had seemed to be merely a flare-up of another, less dangerous condition.
As I continue to re-consider in what form to continue this site or its mission, assuming I can figure out well or practically enough what that mission might be, I’ll also post some personal reflections, including my eulogy for my father, but before anyone apologizes for expressing impatience at my lack of productivity or overdoes any condolences, please understand that in my family, especially on my father’s side, we are encouraged to celebrate the life that has passed into eternal life, and otherwise to get on with our own lives in good humor. The idea is not, at least as I have observed and experienced it, a strict refusal of mourning as some inhumane test of Christian faith, but a gentle refusal of excessive mourning. Otherwise, I’m the one who ought to apologize, if anyone should, for not having shared enough of my personal life to make myself comprehensible to my internet friends and other readers, on this matter as perhaps on others.
I’ll have more to say about that all later, either here or at my father’s site or both, but for now I’ll just post the selection of recordings we played for a rather captive audience, after the bagpiper was done, before the eulogies (there is a good explanation for the roughness of the first selection):
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As I sat at the front of the Church of the Open Bible, not far from one of the two excellent self-powered speakers we had rented (and had gotten working only at the last moment!), I as usual found Dad’s operatic performances most transportive. They were recorded near the peak of his vocal development, before the illness and other disasters that ended his grand operatic career around the time I was born. Sometime during “Eri Tu,” probably the first part, I stopped worrying about how anyone else was hearing it all, and simply gave into the depths of my father’s voice, played back as I think he had always wanted people to hear it, or as close as possible for us, before a reasonably large audience of family and friends. My uncle Ross’s daughter Lori, who was seated in the row behind me, must have seen me close my eyes, and have thought I was breaking down emotionally, all alone. She reached out to me to offer support. Though I did not feel in need of it at that moment, I was and remain grateful for the kind gesture.
I think, however, that the single song I found most personally moving was “The Prayer Perfect,” number 7 on the Soundcloud playlist, a musical setting by Oley Speaks of a poem by James Whitcomb Riley, since Dad’s rendition of it came across to me as his message to all of us – the same one he had been delivering throughout the entirety of his final stay at the hospital. I have since learned that the song is often requested for funerals. I frequently find myself singing it to myself, or playing it back mentally, not always able to tell the difference, as if my voice and my father’s voice could merge, not in a duet, something we never tried, but as simply one voice.