Back when I was in single-dad mode, my eight/nine year old daughter and I were living in a small apartment by ourselves. Like many kids that age, she loved cartoons and animated movies, but she could not sit down and just watch them. She always had to be doing something else at the same time; dancing, playing with Barbies, coloring – typical short attention span, multi-tasking kind of stuff that her generation is infamous for. There was only one exception to that rule – one that surprised me, and might surprise you too – The Wizard of Oz.
Judy Garland and her misfit band of fanciful friends absolutely mesmerized her. She would sit and watch the VHS movie all the way through, from beginning to end. Then she would rewind it and watch it again. It was the only movie or tv show for a number of years that captivated her imagination like that.
She knew the songs. She knew the dialog. She knew the whole movie forwards and backwards.
Which is why, when she asked me to choose a song for the Father-Daughter dance at her wedding this past Saturday, I chose the Israel Kamakawiwo’Ole version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow.
First of all, it is an awesome song. And the merging of it with Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World was genius. “Brother Iz” was amazing.
But the primary reason I chose that song was that the memory of she and I watching the Wizard of Oz together reminds me that it was her presence, her sweet face, her loving heart, her beautiful innocence that helped me survive one of the most difficult, lonely times of my life. I couldn’t have made it without her. She gave me a reason to keep fighting – a reason to keep living.
Though it remained unspoken, I think we both knew that if we could get through that valley – if we could find our way out of that wilderness – and reach the land above and beyond the rainbow, a wonderful world would be ours. But we would only be able to get there together.
And we did.
And it’s wonderful.