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Like many Saturday afternoons, we found ourselves straightening up the house, the children and I. It was June 2007, it was hot, and they were beginning to bicker. What can you expect? The last thing kids want to do on a weekend is clean up after themselves. While I did my best to make sense of the one thousand toys scattered around the playroom, Sophie and Jacob had the simple task of picking up their toys, shoes and movies in the living room. I’m sure at the time I thought we would surprise Julie, who was at work. However, my two darlings began to argue and my nerves were beginning to fray. Instead of erupting and unleashing anger, I decided to alleviate the growing tension with music.

Our house is always filled with music, whether it’s coming from the stereo, the television, Sophie’s room, the kitchen, or through the voices of my loved ones. Julie can sing like an angel and Sophie appears to have inherited this wonderful trait. It’s still too early to tell what kind of singing voice Jake will have, but like his sister, he has a natural talent for keeping the beat (something from the old man, I suppose). I sprang into action and threw in Paul McCartney’s Memory Almost Full, which had recently been released, skipping the first track and going right to my favorite song, “Ever Present Past.”

The driving rhythm of the song’s opening immediately captured the kids’ attention, especially when their father decided to revisit the high stepping of his high school and college marching band days.  Jacob cracked up, his cheeks full and eyes squinting, while Sophie broke into a gorgeous wide open grin that lit up her deep blue eyes.  “Follow me!” I commanded and we created our own parade, weaving down the hallway, through the kitchen, around the playroom and back into the living room.  At the song’s bridge, I shouted, “Crazy dance!”  The three of us twisted and turned, jumped and wiggled like loons.  When the instruments suddenly stopped just before the final verse, we froze until the music restarted.  Our parade picked up once again moving through the house.

And then it was over.  Two minutes and fifty-six seconds of pure bliss created a memory that will stay with me a lifetime.

Later that summer, jetting across the U.S. en route to Cleveland, I listened to “Ever Present Past” through my headphones.  That Saturday afternoon replayed in my head and my eyes brimmed with tears as I thought of Sophie and Jacob and our impromptu parade. As I tapped my foot in the cramped space of my airline seat, I felt like I was hearing the lyrics for the very first time, even though I’d sung them over and over for as long as I owned the album.

I’ve got too much on my plate
Don’t have no time to be a decent lover
I hope it isn’t too late
Searching for the time that has gone too fast
The time that I thought would last

…and the end of the bridge…

It went by in a flash
It flew by it flew by
In a flash

Sophie and Jacob are growing up so quickly. And there are some days when I’ll look at them, marveling at how smart they are and at how tall they’re becoming and I feel like… I feel like sometimes I’m missing it.  I try to be the best father possible, but am I there for them enough?  Am I giving them the attention that they deserve… the attention that they crave?  I would hate to be 50 someday and regret missing the small moments in favor of the trivial bullshit that fills my head.  Someday they will outgrow the snuggling at night, reading stories, asking me to help them with simple tasks and (horrors of horrors) listening to the same music that I love.   Someday they may outgrow me.

Luckily, I have this song to give me pause when I’m consumed with my own selfish wants; I have this song to remind me that the key things to life aren’t clean rooms, DVDs or painted houses, but laughing giggling children marching through the halls and dancing with their goofy dad on lazy Saturday afternoons.