LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
“But it’s all right, it’s all right, I’m just weary to my bones,” Willie sang in that strong, clear, warm voice. “Still, you don’t expect to be bright and bon vivant, so far away from home, so far away from home.”
The hospital floor was quiet, and I just held my head in my hands, still in shock that my strong dad had gotten to this place. When the song was over, I looked up, and my dad’s eyes were open but his chest was still. He was gone.
Since, I’ve thought a lot about that day and once a year, I listen to that song, which is still hard to hear. It may be magical thinking — the tests all showed his brain function was gone — but I do believe my dad was waiting for me and maybe even for that song before he left.
So when I heard that Willie Nelson was playing at the Master Musicians Festival in Somerset, I knew I had to go. Turns out my father-in-law also loves Willie, so soon all of my in-laws were excitedly looking for cowboy hats to complete their Willie Nelson ensembles.
Last Saturday, we saw Willie’s RV pull into Somerset Community College’s campus, a beaut painted with an Indian chief riding horseback into the sunset. The campus was packed with people, and the atmosphere was charged with anticipation. As the bus rolled in, the crowd started cheering and soon thereafter, Willie showed up on stage, looking a whole lot younger than his 80 years.
Earlier, I’d noticed the space in front of the stage was reserved for people who wanted to stand, and that’s where I planned to go. As Willie started playing, I saw people start flowing toward that space and I leaned into my sis-in-law Teresa.