Doc Watson has passed on. We’ve listened to his music since we first married. I remember when his son Merle died. Some wondered if he would be able to continue his music. He instituted Merlefest and played on for 26 years. I’m sure he missed Merle at every session.
I remember when Art Linkletter‘s child died after plunging from a window. Johnny Carson’s son’s death, John Travolta‘s son, Bill Cosby’s and Eric Clapton‘s.
They all presented brave faces to the camera. Their statements were made to assure the public that they would carry on. Yes they carry on with their belly full of grief.
Doc Watson never saw his son. Blind from birth he began playing harmonica with his musical family by age five. He never got to physically see his son, but his love was not dependent on that.
Their music brought them together early in Merle’s life. Doc is proported to have considered retirement when Merle died.
I have a friend whose daughter has been gone for eighteen years. I cannot imagine it. We have passed eleven months and I see no end to my grief in sight. I watch everyone as they move forward in time after the death of their child and marvel over their ability. Some have commented on “how well” I am doing. I take it from some people better than from others.
How did Doc Watson stand to play those songs that were always done accompanied by Merle?
Perhaps it was to honor his son and their relationship.
The celebrity who has lost a child is in a most terrible position. I know how people look at me and scrutinize “how I am”. Imagine the world in your face, taking pictures and trying to document your progress. My heart goes out to all of them and I admire what they have been able to do. So many people who have never lost a child somehow mistakenly think that a parent can “get over” the loss.
Doc Severinson when interviewed about his friend and colleague Johnny Carson said “he was never the same after the death of his son.” I understand.
But not being the same is not necessarily a bad thing sometimes. At least not all bad. There are obvious things to some people who are observant. To others who know me superficially I have maintained that superficial jocular facade. What they cannot see is my attitude towards them. I have so much more compassion for them. They are blissfully unaware of what might be in their future too. I worry a bit for their sake. I treat them as kindly as I can. I make it easier for them to be around me because I want all the people around me that I can get who are safe. In that I mean, they know of my loss and are wiling to be with me.
I have some people who were friends before our son died who have not even so much as sent a card, or email. Probably they think that it has been almost a year, and it is too late for them to do so.
It is never too late to acknowledge a child to their parent. Never.
There are people who I have overlooked in that way, or felt uncomfortable and did not know what to say. My son’s death has changed that for me too. To some I have apologized about my ignorance. We spend too much time trying to do things according to some protocol that does not exist. Do the right thing whenever it occurs to you, and allow the chips to fall where they may.
We are deep into the season that is upon us. June is fraught with memories of my son. We find ourselves missing and yearning for him more than ever.
Surely even up until the last time Doc Watson played his guitar he thought of his son. He may even have heard him accompany him in his mind.
Today at the school our son attended our daughter is attending a simple remembrance for those faculty, staff and students who have passed. My husband and I chose not to go. We were told it would be very short, and not worth our effort to drive that far. The tough part is we would just like to be where our son’s name is said, out loud for every one to hear just one more time.
Maybe that is why Doc chose to institute Merlefest. Then, at least, his son’s name would be on everyone’s lips. I understand that need. That excruciating need.
I looked up your son’s accident and read the news reports. My heart aches for you.
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