After my father died, I purchased one of his cars. It was a 2012 Mazda 5—nothing fancy, but I had a 2009 Mazda 5, which I liked. When I was out in Washington State to manage my parents’ estates, I drove my dad’s Mazda 5 between his house on the Olympic Peninsula and my other relatives’ homes in the Seattle area. I was comfortable in it. It drove just like mine, but had a better trim level and interior features. I figured I could buy his Mazda, sell mine, and get a newer, better car for not much money. And that’s what happened.
My father had a Sirius contract for the car. He and I rode together a lot in that Mazda between his home and my mother’s assisted living. As soon as he turned on the engine, the music began. He often hummed along.
My dad loved music—particularly classical and country. His Sirius presets included a couple of country stations, a classical station, another for opera, and NPR. When I drove the car after his death, I didn’t know how to find any other Sirius stations, so I left the presets where they were.
But I didn’t listen to the country. I’ve hated country music ever since my father insisted the family watch Hee-Haw every week of my childhood. How I hated that show! So I kept the Sirius tuned to the classical stations and NPR as I drove my father’s car and thought of him.
My dad’s Sirius contract ran out in April of last year, about the time I bought his Mazda. I didn’t renew the contract, because I’m too cheap. Perhaps in the wilds of the Olympic Peninsula, where radio stations are few and staticky, it made sense. But in urban Kansas City, I wasn’t about to pay for satellite radio for my car.
Moreover, I prefer driving in silence. I’ll turn on NPR if I’m driving during rush hour and the news is on. And on long road trips I might listen to music to help me stay awake. But most of the time I prefer my own thoughts to the chatter on the air.
I only listened to the radio after my dad died because the Sirius stations he had selected reminded me of him. Driving his Mazda (now mine) around Kansas City, I’ve mostly kept the radio off.
My parents get more mail at my house than my husband and I do. I put in a change of address form for them after my father died, so that their mail would come to me as their executor. That change of address expired early this year, and any mail sent to their old address no longer is forwarded to Kansas City.
But all the advertisements and catalogs somehow picked up on their address change. I get stuff from advertisers they haven’t bought from in a decade or so.
And Kansas City retailers have discovered them also. My mother gets ads for hearing aids every week. And my father is solicited regularly to move to a local retirement community. Most of this junk mail goes straight to my recycling bin.
Then a notice from Sirius addressed to my father arrived at my house. Sirius was turning his service back on, in the hopes he would renew his contract. So on May 18, the date their offer began, I tuned to Sirius on the Mazda’s radio. Sure enough, there it was.
I flipped through the presets—all my father’s stations still there. For the last several days, I’ve been listening to classical music and thinking of my father humming along. But I still won’t listen to country.
What music reminds you of loved ones you have lost?