Dad's Trombone

I must have arrived home to the sounds of my father’s classical music. There’s a photo of me, 3 days old, a shriveled prune with a purple claw hanging over the edge of a crocheted blanket, propped up next to one of my father’s trombones which outsizes me by ten times. 

My dad played with the Metropolitan Opera and practiced scales ceaselessly, tirelessly adjusting for faults no one else would have noticed, over and over. These tuneless scales, up then down then up again, are the soundtrack of my earliest years. In the plodding notes, I could hear the register of his own voice so much so that the two sounds became indiscernible to me. When I was small enough to have to look up at him seated, I’d watch the accumulated spit drip out from the end of the horn once it had built up. Cleaning the dribbling spit was done as a matter of course, part of the ritual of playing the instrument.

Now my dad cannot control his mouth or his right arm well enough to play the instrument. But he still tries. And hopes.