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Warmest Regards: Melody of Love

Editor’s note: The following column was first published in 1994.

The organ is playing the haunting strains of “Melody of Love.” A “couples only” sign flashes on the board at our local skating rink.

That’s his cue to find the teenage girl in the black velvet skating outfit.

She smiles at him as he waltzes her around the skating rink. There is no mistaking the fact that she loves him. It’s written all over her face.

Skaters watching the couple spin around the floor have mixed emotions.

They admire his style. He’s a Fred Astaire on skates. Smooth. Maybe too smooth.

What’s he doing with a girl her age?

She laughs when another skater scolds her about his age. “He’s my father,” she beams.

“What kind of father would take his teenage daughter skating?” asks the skeptical friend.

One who loves his daughter, that’s who. I know because I was the lucky daughter who was waltzed around the skating rink by my favorite Fred Astaire.

This week as I’m washing dishes, I hear “Melody of Love” on an oldies station. My hands stay in the dishwater but my mind floats away to that skating rink and the father who loved me enough to travel 300 miles to be with me there.

The music makes me want to waltz again, to be held by my father while his smooth skating helps me float to the music.

But I have to be content with precious memories. My skating days are over and my father’s waltz is but a memory to his aging, aching legs.

But we still hear that melody, that Melody of Love that exists between father and child, regardless of how old we grow.

For many of us, I believe the bond of parental love grows stronger with age. While bodies may weaken, the heart grows wiser, capable of deeper feeling and meaning.

Older eyes see every nuance, every expression of love that younger eyes might miss.

Older hearts don’t get tangled so much in the small stuff of life. They don’t chase every stray rainbow.

Instead, older hearts guard more closely the gold in their midst.

My father is my gold, my inheritance.

My inheritance from him is in my laugh, in my appreciation of life.

It’s in the words I think important enough to say and in the silence I’m sometimes wise enough to keep.

My inheritance from him is in the breath I exhale when I breathe in the beauty of a forest or the majesty of a mountain.

My inheritance from him is in the freedom I have to be myself, knowing that the only thing I can do better than anyone else is simply to be me.

On a few occasions, he told me he regrets he hasn’t been able to give me much. Does he forget his precious gifts? The gifts without price tags?

Surely he remembers the waltz. Surely he remembers the melody.

Surely he knows that waltz is still playing. It’s playing in my head every time I say the word “Dad.”

For the lucky child of a loving parent,

“Melody of Love” is a lifelong waltz.

• • •

The above column was first published for Father’s Day in 1994. When I referred to it in a column four weeks ago, a few readers asked to read the entire article.

I didn’t think I could honor that request because columns that old aren’t stored digitally and I didn’t think I could ever find a 25-year-old column.

But as I looked through an old box of photos, the article was in that box. Guess it was meant to be that I run it again. I’m happy to share it with you for Father’s Day.

Perhaps it will help you recall your own melody of love.

Contact Pattie Mihalik at newsgirl@comcast.net.