The leader of the band is gone—
                His eyes never grew old,
                But his blood runs through our family
                And his music’s in our soul….

My Dad died unexpectedly. (Well, as unexpected as any heavy-set 59-year old smoking three packs per day—whose primary physical exercise was pulling out a card table). At any rate, on Friday, August 9, 1985, in Columbus, Ohio, Al Bogart woke up dead. My father, the straw that stirred my drink—gone.

I recall the moment I heard, the day that unfolded, the weekend vigil…but most of all, I remember him. And better yet, I hold on to the one compelling sense I had then and have now: that when my dad died, there were no words unspoken, no thoughts unshared, no feelings unfelt between us…

                “I thank you for your music
                And your stories of the road…”

We’d talk about everything—his past, our fears, the future. We’d often laugh and sometimes cry. Countless times I’d reveal an exploit yet his eyes would well up:
“What’s the matter?” I’d ask.
“Just don’t want you making the same mistakes as me.”

A black & white man in a world turning grayer by the minute, he’d temper frustration with loyalty to those he held dear. And he WAS loyal, steadfast. Not only couldn’t he stay mad at me, but he couldn’t stay mad at my friends.

Like the time Stuart’s UHaul brainstorm found us retrieving 5,000 magazines rush hour at Pacemont & High, or the more than one Saturday a less-than-industrious Alan would let leads “get stale” by not knocking on doors.
“How is it,” he’d ask, “That the only part of Columbus where it rained today is where your friend was?”

                “I thank you for the freedom
                When it came my time to go…”

He was, to be sure, the least judgmental person I’ve ever known. Well, not always. Once, while driving up High Street we caught the light at 16th. Jimmy Ross, sporting shoulder-length hair, rushed out of Varsity Drug, saw us, and asked for a ride. Indeed, moments after dropping him at the Sammy House my dad mused: “His parents must be so proud.”

There was never a time, though, that I didn’t feel loved, or that I didn’t know that every part of my world was welcomed in his.

                “I thank you for your kindness
                And the times when you got tough….”

He was not a perfect man, but beautiful man, a best friend. Still, he was never too busy being my friend to be my father—

He would correct my grammar, reject my nail-biting (“Fingers!”), or, just as often, puff his lip offering a unique blend of caustic and love:

“I don’t care what your buddies are doing—I’m not their father.”
“I tell you these things so you’ll learn.”
“Why do you insist on doing things you know you’ll regret?”
(All of which was usually followed by his arm around my shoulder and his promise that “Someday you’ll laugh at all this.”

                And Papa I could never say
                I thank you near enough….

I was lucky. Very lucky. Knew it then; know it now. Always. Through
sixty years I’ve tripped, stumbled and fallen on most of the Commandments—but not the Fifth. Ever.

I know, in my heart of hearts, that there was never a time I didn’t honor my father…That our words, thoughts and feelings endure…that every day with him was like opening a greeting card, and that, a quarter century later, everyday without him is still Father’s Day.

                My life has been my own attempt
                To imitate the man…
                “I’m just a living legacy
                To the leader of the band…..”

                                                                    D. Fogelberg

2 Responses to “THE LEADER OF THE BAND”

  1. Jackie says:

    Big Albert would’ve been proud to see the father that YOU have become!

  2. Unknown says:

    The best dad ever.

Leave a Reply