With apologies to William Martin Joel:
Good morning, son, time to open your eyes…
When you were very young, Mom and I would take turns trying to rock you to sleep. Usually we’d have a CD going in the background, one of which consisted of instrumental versions of lullabies. “Lullaby (Goodnight, My Angel)” was among them, and believe it or not it’s how I began to appreciate that song so much.
That moment when you finally closed your eyes for the night occasionally brought tears to mine. I never fully understood why this was so, but maybe it was because I suddenly felt separated from you.
Good morning, son, now it’s time to wake…
As you got older, your bedtime ritual changed. When you became too big to want to be held, Mom began singing to you as you lay in bed. As you know, three songs quickly became your favorites. Two of them were choruses of early 20th century tunes her mother had sung to her, “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles” and “Shine On, Harvest Moon.” The third used the melody of “Kum Ba Yah,” with personalized lyrics. Mom and I continued alternating nights getting you settled in, so I learned to sing them as well.
There was a period around the time you were six when, after I was done singing, you would ask me to tell you something about my childhood. I talked about friends I had, trips my family took, and probably brief versions of some stories that have wound up in this space. Perhaps to some extent, your inquiries of years ago led to me getting many other things down in writing for you.
Good morning, son, now it’s time to dream…
Eventually you became too old for the nightly songfest—lately, you’ve even been staying up later than we have. And now that process we undertook for all those years unspools. Today, this morning, you’re opening your eyes, awaking, and heading out to pursue your dreams in another place, the college you’ve chosen to help you grow in knowledge, in wisdom, and in taking on responsibility. Those ambitions have morphed over the past dozen years–sort of–from inventor to engineer to lab scientist; it will be fascinating to discover what you’re thinking your life will be about four years from now.
The music of this world is often in a minor key–and has too much lately veered into dissonance and cacophony–but I am so excited to see what you can do to make it all sound a little sweeter.
Godspeed, Ben, but don’t forget:
I will never be far away…you’ll always be a part of me…that’s how you and I will be.
P.S. Thanks for asking us to sing to you last night.