The Old Family Home. This song came out of nowhere. Or did it? Maybe it was always there, just like the old family home itself. Just didn't appear till the time came to say goodbye. Sometimes, I guess, that's just the way it goes.
February 1st, 2020. We'd been helping Mom move out, for the last six weeks or so. But this had been coming since Dad passed away in 2018. The old family home was just a big lonely place for her, after that. I could see it, when I'd go to visit her. What had been a house full of people, was now occupied by a solitary, and somewhat lonely, figure. It was time to move on. At first my thoughts were about her, as we moved thru the house. Sorting thru all kinds of heirlooms, or in some cases simple artifacts, of the lives we'd lived there. It was just a simple project, a routine undertaking, really.
Mom was chatty, excited, and full of expectations of the things to come. She talked about the things she was looking forward to. New friends, activities, and a new town. She seemed happy. She'd be closer to me too, geographically. A plus, for me, for sure. But the day I drove back to the old family home to meet the Movers, I could feel an emotion starting to rise, that I hadn't anticipated. I realized that these last days were going to be, the last times, that I'd be able to "go home". Unanticipated, maybe because, for all practical purposes I hadn't actually lived there for many years. As I watched my childhood home being emptied out, that feeling manifested into something more than a feeling. A growing presence that was palpable. Heralding this energy, and these apparitions, of our times there. At the old family home. I figured it would go away once we were done.
Finally, the move was done. Mom was getting settled at her new address. During the week of the final push to clean the old place up, I came down with a bad cold. I'm grateful that my Son, my Brother, and the Realtor were there to meet the clean-up crew. The job got done. I did, however, really want to see the place one last time.
The clean-up was done. The house was empty. But the escrow closing, was delayed, for a day. As it turned out I got one last chance to go say goodbye.
Blue Eyes and I drove out to the old family home on the last day. I could have done other things that day. But something in my gut told me to go. I felt compelled to go, actually. So, we drove out, parked the car, and unlocked the front door. Walked in and looked around. Empty. The only thing left was some dust and a few crumbs in the corner. The cleaners did a pretty darn good job.
I was drawn to the linen closet. Or so it seemed. Took a look inside, and found on the shelf a lonely, dusty Valentine. The only thing left behind. From my Dad. "To My Wife", it read. I looked up from it. Blue Eyes' and I, our eyes met. She said reverently, "You know it is Valentine's Day this month". I think we both got a chill. I know I did. Suddenly, so many things made sense. It was almost as if I could feel him standing there.
I regretted not really saying goodbye to my Father. Truth is, our relationship was strained at times. And after he passed, I was left with what seemed an irreconcilable feeling about my relationship with him. I didn't want that. I don't think he did either. I do know one thing for sure. Dad, he always made sure things were taken care of. Always.
That day, I went to say goodbye to The Old Family Home. But the way this happened, it almost seemed as if I was brought back there, to receive this gift. The gift of realization. That the thing I thought I'd missed, just like The Old Family Home itself, was always there. He made sure I knew. It was ok. It's going to be ok. Standing there in the hallway by the linen closet, I could almost hear him say, "Son, take care".
Salty Rose, 2020
The single "studio version" of The Old Family Home is available, on CD Baby, 3-17-2020. You can also hear it on Pandora, Spotify and other streaming sites.
Studio Preview, of the recording session, on Feb 7th, 2020. I was concerned that the energy and emotion captured in the "demo version" wouldn't translate in the studio. Sometimes that happens. But in this instance, the mojo was there. You can hear it. The story of the song has a happy ending in that regard too.
The 'Demo' of the song. I wrote and recorded this song on my iPhone back in Ventura, after walking thru The Old Family Home, one last time. I had the Valentine. I wanted it to be in the song, somehow. I wanted to tell the story. But I wasn't sure I could convey the story in the proper manner, with the proper spirit when I first wrote it. So I left it out of the demo till I could figure that out. As it turned out the Valentine verse was written a day or two later. And with that, the song was whole, and it was time to go to the studio to record the single that you can hear on Pandora, Spotify, and CD Baby starting on St Patrick's Day.
Dedicated to the memory of William Donnell Ambrose, 1930 - 2018