Last night , another chapter of my life came to a close as my father passed away…
He never let us call him “Dad” or “Daddy”.. It was “Stoney” – a childhood nickname that he acquired that he insisted everyone call him by , even us… All of my friends thought it was awesome that we didn’t have to call our dad “dad” ,but not me.. I hated it. As a dad myself , I can’t imagine EVER being called anything else but “Daddy” by my kids – but I don’t hold that against him anymore. I know that he had many demons to contend with from his own past and the way he was brought up and this was simply a defense mechanism to keep up at a distance , to keep from getting too close to us…but he was my dad , and I loved him anyway.
There aren’t very many lessons that he taught me…not alot of those “father /son” moments where he bestowed some wise life lesson or some good bit of fatherly advice..I think in part , he was still trying to figure it out himself. My dad didn’t have the benefit of an incredible big brother and grandfather to help shape the heart of a young boy like I did..My dad had a more than turbulent relationship with both his parents and an older brother who was in “The Hell’s Angels” back in their heyday..No – my dad was still very much an afraid little boy for the majority of his life… but he was my dad , and I loved him anyway.
There aren’t many great memories to cling to either .. Most of the time I was scared when he was home or when he had his friends over.. They were always loud dizzy acting and I didn’t understand why then – but there are a few memories that will always be standouts.. There were 2 camping trips that will always mean the most to me. Both trips it was just he ,my brother and I. One was at a country pond owned by a family friend , the other was on the Flint River.. I have many ,vivid details from both trips that will always stay with me. The country pond trip we cooked over the open fire . This may not seem to be a big deal , but it was my first time – and all we ate was JUNK!.. The Flint River trip I was a little older , and we put in at one point – floated down the river to a sand bar and camped , then finished the trip to exit point the next day. Along the way we swung from a rope tied to an extended tree branch over the river – This topped open fire junk food eating by leaps and bounds and was monumental in my life .. I have even blogged about that event here… This trip was truly an ADVENTURE!…But what really made them so awesome was the fact that it was just him and us – no drunk or stoned buddies – just him and us. He actually gave us his time ..he talked to us about stuff… about life ,girls etc…
The memory that really sticks out , was when I was in the 6th grade. The one thing my father truly impressed on me was a deep love and appreciation for music. From the earliest memories I have , music was always on in the house , and my dad was always talking about the artist.. I amazed at how much he knew about these people. My dad was a guitar player and played often.. I can’t hear The Doors or The Beach Boys and not think of him as these were a few of the staples in his “arsenal”. At any rate , it was in me… BIG TIME and I seen Motley Crue’s “Looks that Kill video and knew then what I wanted to do… I had to have DRUMS…I had been trying to convince him for months to buy me a drum set. His answer was always “NO” – You don’t know how to play… But I did.. Not because I had ever sat behind a drum set in my life , but because I had seen enough music videos and watched the drummers play , that I knew EXACTLY what to do..I had mimicked their movements , emulated their patterns and played enough air drums to KNOW that I KNEW..and finally the day had come. We were at Music Mart in Smyrna. Music Mart might as well have been Disneyland for me…it was HUGE (long before your cookie cutter Guitar Centers)..and while my dad was looking at guitars , I bee -lined for the drum section where they had an incredible monster of a drum set on display that from its looks ,had been tried more than a couple of times. This was my ONE SHOT to prove to my dad I had skills and was deserving of a set… “In the air tonight “by Phil Collins was blasting over the stores P.A system and when the time came in the song for the all famous Drum intro – I played right along as hard and as LOUD as I could… and I was good. So good that without realizing it, my eyes closed and I just fell into the groove of that song and played my heart out for the remaining minute and 30 seconds of that song… And when I opened my eyes , I was surrounded. It seemed like the entire store was gathered around me , and right in the middle , was my dad. Fear came over me .. I didn’t dawn on me that maybe I wasn’t supposed to play these drums and my desire to show my dad I could ,had maybe replaced common sense at that moment… Until he smiled at me. He smiled the biggest smile I had ever seen him smile.. and I had done it. I had ,even for just a moment -gained his approval and he was proud of me… The whole store cheered for me and so did he… It was a great day and needless to say for Christmas – I got my drums.
These …these are what I will remember. …Because he was my dad and I didn’t have to “love him anyway “during these times – I just loved him… and he loved us back.
His name was James “Stoney” Stonehart and he was my dad. He died way too young… and I will miss him.