years ago in the month of June, I just happened to
be in the card shop looking for a birthday card,
when another man struck up a conversation.
"What are you giving your father this
year?" he asked me.
"My father died in 1991," I said.
Obviously embarrassed, he said, "Oh, I'm
sorry. I never thought to ask." Then
without hesitation he continued, "It's just
that I always have a hard time trying to find
something for my father. It's not that he has
everything, but whatever you give him always
ends up in a drawer unused. I have this great
fear that when he dies I'm going to find all my
gifts for him still in the original
"I know exactly how you feel," I
answered. "Each Father's Day, my wife and I
decided to take him and mom out to dinner and
give him a gift card to whatever store he
shopped. It was really not very personal, but he
liked it. He got to choose what he wanted."
"No matter what we give him, he always says
the same thing, 'Oh, that's nice. You're wasting
your money!'" he said, laughing. "Then
he sets it aside."
"Well, it's easy for me now. I just sing
for him," I told him.
"But I thought you said he had passed."
"Yes, but he's still very much alive in
me," I replied. "I sing because he
always enjoyed singing with my mom as she played
piano, and he always loved hearing my mom sing.
I grew up on great music. I'm just paying him
"Where do you sing for him?"
"At the cemetery, of course."
"Okay..." He seemed skeptical.
"Every Father's Day I visit the cemetery.
Because his grave is fairly close to the road, I
am able to pull up next to it. I open my car
door, pop in my own CD I recorded and stand over
his grave and sing."
"What do you sing?" he asked.
"Too Ra Loo Ra. It was an old Bing Crosby
hit and was my Dad's favorite. It always brought
tears to his eyes." "Then what?"
"Then I get back in my car and go
"Don't you feel foolish?" he asked.
"I mean there must be other people around.
Don't they look at you funny?"
"To tell you the truth I never pay
attention to anyone else. Yes, I see them there,
but this is my gift for my father. They bring
flowers. I sing."
"Well," he objected, "I can't
"You don't have to," I told him.
"While you still have your father with you,
give him your time. Sit with him. Talk to him
while you can. Ask him questions about his
youth, when he met your mother, his first job.
What was his biggest dream? Do you know any of
He thought for a moment, ran his fingers up and
down the greeting cards in front of him and
softly said, "No. I don't."
"There will come a time when you wish you
had asked," I said.
"Come to think of it, I don't even know his
favorite song," he said.
"Find out and buy it for him. Better yet,
sing it with him. That, my friend, will be the
greatest gift you'll ever give him. Then on that
day when all the shirts and ties are found in
his drawer unopened, you'll still have something
to give him. If a stranger stops you in a card
store and asks, you can say, 'I sing for my