John-Ward Leighton CD

SONGS OF THE DEAD

Dad in his kilts
Charles Leighton in his kilts: June 1914
my Dad came to me in a dream last night
somehow he seemed to be warning me
of some coming event
he crossed the river of time
forty three years this 30th of May
the day he died
I was in hospital recovering
from a knee operation
drugged to the gills
and in a semi coma
I don’t know if the nurses told me
but I dreamed we had a conversation
that year was the worst year of my life
even the year of my demise couldn’t be worse
my Army career was in the toilet
and it was the last year of competitive sports
I was drinking too much
and descended into a five year depression
my little family followed my Army career
into the toilet
thank the fates that my soon to be ex wife
was the stronger of us
for the sake of the children
this is the first time since my Dad’s demise
that he has come to me in dream
he looks out at me from my shaving mirror
every morning
and his words fall out of my mouth
now and then
and when a old vet
marches by
I have to resist the urge
to pass hum and see if it’s my Dad
because in reality I am now that old vet
and remember my Dad’s beautiful baritone voice
the duet from the Pearl Fishers
with Jussi Bjoerling and Robert Merrill
bring tears to my eyes
and the presence of my Dad
is uncanny
singing these
songs of the dead

Author’s Note: Next year the picture of my Dad in his kilts will be one hundred years old. He was a sixteen year old “drummer boy” in the pipe band of 1/16 Royal Scots and one year away from Gallipoli.