This Father’s Day coincides with a waning Strawberry moon and a supermoon making it exceptionally full and bright. The moon’s gossamer glow both increases and soothes my melancholy. I miss my dad even more now that my mother is gone, too.
Gazing up, I see the man in the moon and picture my father. I imagine Claude Debussy’s piano classic Claire de Lune quietly playing in the background as a perfect accompaniment to my bittersweet emotions.
Claire de Lune, meaning moonlight, is one of the most well-known and beloved piano pieces of all time. It is the third and most famous movement of Debussy’s 1890 Suite Bergamasque. In a spirit of creative cooperation, Debussy was inspired by Paul Verlaine’s poem Claire de Lune, which was inspired by the moon itself.
Whether or not one understands French, the poem sounds lovely. “Et leur chanson se mele au clair de lune. Au calme clair de lune triste et beau.“ These lines are translated to say, “And their song mingles with the moonlight. With the sad and beautiful moonlight.”
Triste et beau. Sad and beautiful. Yes, those two words do strike a chord. I’m in awe of nature’s ability to inspire masterpieces that express our seemingly inexpressible emotions. Both nature and art connect us through a timeless shared humanity. A humanity that collectively understands the deep missing of a father.
My mind travels back to a moonlit evening many years ago. My handsome young dad is at the piano plucking out chords and humming a tune. He had an ear for music and could find the notes to any song he heard. My sisters and I gather around him in our nightgowns, squeaky clean from evening baths, and sing together for almost an hour before dreamily floating off to bed.
My dad was an optimist who believed in hard work and easy living. He enjoyed the simple things and could make an impromptu evening around the piano feel like a special occasion. He filled ordinary moments with extraordinary memories and elegant lessons in living.
Looking up at the full moon this evening I wish my dad a happy father’s day. Silhouetted against a heavenly circle of light I blow a kiss to the man in the moon. He is sitting at a piano playing Claire de Lune. §
“He didn’t tell me how to live; he lived and let me watch him do it.”
~Clarence Budington Kelland