Dad at his job. He was the maintenance man at Cedar

As a friend of mine always says, the longer you live, the more this is gonna happen. It’s just the way it is.

June 2, 2017 is my dad’s death day. I got the call that following Monday morning just before I went on the air…and I mean, moments before.

Relatives had been attempting to get in touch with me over the weekend. I’d attended a yoga workshop that Saturday and Sunday I was out doing yard work, not paying much attention to my phone either day.

I worked through the week while I figured out the logistics of going to Farmington Minnesota (where my dad lived, just outside of Minneapolis), what to do with his body, how to write his obituary, what to do with his possessions, all of those things we avoid thinking about until we’re slapped in the face with reality.

I got on a plane Friday evening, in a daze, heading into the unknown.

What followed was a week of raw emotion, old family, new family, new friends, kindness, support, surprises, hilarity and a discovery of strength I didn’t know I had.

Because my dad is who he is, he and I didn’t have a conventional father/daughter relationship. He’s a musician and that’s the muse that fed his soul. I accepted that and met him where he was.

My parents divorced when I was young. I lived with my dad’s mom (grandma Josephine) and her houseful of kids (my aunts and uncles) for a time and until she passed, she’d always kept in touch with me and my brother.

Dad, on the other hand, was less communicative. Oh we’d talk a few times over the years but it wasn’t until I was older that we began communicating in earnest, by phone, letters, cards, postcards (all of which I stumbled on as I went through his things this past week). I went to visit him.

We mostly talked music. We also seemed to share a similar outlook on life and had the same quirky taste in decor. He wasn’t one for small talk and had an intelligent sense of humor. And he was pretty much no bullshit. He liked his space and rarely communicated with family. One of my aunts called him her “mysterious older brother”.

He had two other daughters from two other marriages after my brother and me. I met one and spoke to the other on the phone this past week.

He may not have been Ward Cleaver but he was a good man. And he was the right father for me. And his neighbors and coworkers thought the world of him.

Too often people lament what they don’t have instead of appreciating what they do have.

Here’s a few pictures from the past week. Everything else I’ll save for the book.

His obituary.

Richard Anthony Caire
Died June 2, 2017 at home in Farmington. He’s survived by three daughters, one son (deceased), eleven siblings, multiple grandchildren, nieces and nephews. A USAF vet and accomplished musician, he played with various bands, owned a record store, a record label (Kai Ray) and wrote and produced other talent in his recording studio in Mpls. He was first in the area to use the Fuzztone guitar sound. Sixties band The Trashmen (“Bird Is The Word”) took their name from one of his recordings. His music listed in Billboard in the ‘60’s and more recently (2012) was played at a Vivienne Westwood fashion show in Tokyo. He spent his later years working at South Cedar Nursery in Farmington. Tony was humble, kind and very loved by all who knew him.

Welcome to Farmington Minnesota.

Crazy hotel carpet. I picked a bad time to quit tripping.

I didn’t trust the locks in the hotel.

Little boy dad. Yes, my dad is Mexican….meaning I am Mexican.

Young dad in one of his many bands. His wives (including my mother) often complained he was never home. He was always out playing. What did you expect? You married a musician.

Dad in his record store.

Dad at his day job. He was the maintenance man at South Cedar Nursery in Farmington for 40 years.

I had dad cremated (being the one to make that decision was surreal). I knew I did not want him in a funeral home. I wanted to celebrate the vibrancy of his life with people who loved him. His boss, Alice, a lovely woman, suggested a kind of a picnic where dad worked. It was perfect. That’s the hat he used to wear a lot.

Some of his coworkers made special dishes for the celebration. It was wonderful, down to earth and comfortable. I think my dad would have liked it.

The picnic buffet from another angle. It included pop tarts because dad liked his pop tarts.

Some of dad’s guitars getting ready to head back to Kansas.

Guitars in cases. He had well over 50.

More of dad’s guitars.

The truck loaded with dad’s stuff. My uncle Dan and cousin Christian came up from Kansas to bring dad and his things back there. He’ll be buried next to his older brother, my uncle Alfred.

And this guy….dad’s buddy and the apartment caretaker, Mike. I don’t know what I would have done without him. He is one of the most kind, gentle men I’ve ever met.

A couple of my dad’s songs…him on guitar and vocals:

Dad gets more than a few mentions in this book:

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