When my grandmother died, it was so fast that I didn't get a chance to say goodbye. I wished I'd had some kind of warning.
I should be careful what I wish for.
When my Opa went, it was a long, drawn-out process. With the death of his wife, he went into a gradual decline. He hid it well, and it was when we realised his mind was going, we were able to trace it backwards, and pick out earlier signs. Like when he participated in a camcorder movie, and he mixed up his lines, we thought nothing of it at the time.
It was tragic that his mind went first, because he had had such a strong mind. He had wonderful stories to tell of his trips all over the world, and of his childhood. He'd seen an amazing amount of change in the world. From the days of riding horses and cat's-whisker radio kits to the days of computers. And he was always clever with his hands. devising toy submarines for us kids that would dive under their own power and then surface. And he could find a million and one uses for a rubber band. He used to cut them out of inner-tubes.
So we lost my grandfather gradually, not all at once. And it hurts to lose someone gradually, too. The first time I cried about it was when I wrote this song, "Fade Away".
In the process of writing it, I kept asking myself what I really wanted to say. What did I want to say to him? What do you say to someone who's dying? The answer I came to was "I love you". And that's when I started crying.
And yes, I made sure to tell him that before he went.
And I performed the song at his funeral. Not well--my throat was tight with tears. But perfection wasn't what I was aiming for.
A lot of musicians write songs to deal with their feelings. This one helped me get in touch with mine.
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