A Mix Tape for My Dad

MixTapeForMyDad_Edit
I don’t remember him ever being in control
of the Magnavox stereo console in our
living room. Usually it was my Mom, picking
out one of the twelve LPs from the Reader’s Digest
Festival of Light Classical Music set, the one
with Renoir’s Bal du moulin de la Galette on the
cover of the box that held all the LPs, or on

high energy days playing one 45 after
another, a string of tunes that would always reach its
peak when I’d stare at the record label as it spun
on the turntable, trying to follow the
capitol ‘S’ on the Specialty Records pressing
of The Reycard Duet with Tony Maiquez and his
Ukelele Gang performing “Oh Baby,” a song

that was actually a Tagalog version of
Little Richard’s “Long Tall Sally,” and which always
seemed to play more loudly than all the other records
put together and put a grin on my Dad’s face and
made him nod and follow that nod with a second nod,
which was as close to head-banging musical bliss as
he ever got. Music wasn’t something my Dad ever took

the time to choose. Instead, it chose him, and if we
played it and he liked it that was good. You could see it
in the focus of his eyes while he read the paper
if the music me or my brothers were playing
on the stereo was helping him or hindering him
as he went about his daily quest for news–news about
the world, about home, and about back home across the

ocean, a place he visited for the last time in the
70s, though now that I think of it, maybe there was one
other time. That was when he had his car accident the last year
he ever drove, because when he came to after the crash
he thought he was in the Philippines again, and I always
wondered what he saw. Did he see the waterfalls, the churches,
his friends playing baseball in the barrio, did he see my Mom

who’d been dead for five years at that time and if he did,
what did he say to her? And, finally, what was the
music he heard, the music that chose him when his car
came to a stop and began to collapse around him?
For two days he was delirious as the faintest
of stars, but when his head cleared I saw him sitting up
in his hospital bed saying “I survived” and nodding,

and I was expecting him to say something else at
that moment like “I WILL survive,” a declaration
from a song, a statement of determination like
A Love Supreme, the Symphony No. 9 in D
minor, or What’s Goin’ On? And this poem is a mix
tape for my Dad, written in the old style and recorded
on paper on the anniversary of his death.

It lies still upon the page, it does not spin, yet it
moves just the same. Like his life, it is meant to be seen
as well as heard, and like the song that starts everyone
moving, their heads nodding, their feet lifting, turning, and
shifting, it will be as long and loud as it needs to be
to take us from classical beginnings, to slow sad endings,
then back home to this eternal, curving universe of sound.

-Jose Padua

Left to right: Cosme Padua, Tony Padua, Jose Padua, Margarita S. Padua, and family friends.

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