"Till I waltz again with you,
let no other hold your charms.
If my dreams would all come true,
you'll be waiting for my arms."
— Sidney Prosen
You know what it's like when a tune gets stuck in your head. It rattles around in your brain. You hum it, you sing it and it drives you crazy.
Dum-te-dum-ta-dah-de-dum … what is that song?
Dad whistled a tune while he worked. From under the combine, on his back in the wheat stubble, pulling on a crescent wrench … he whistled. From inside a TV cabinet, smoke from a soldering iron curling around his head … he whistled. In the shop, sparks flying from the grinder as he sharpened mower blades … he whistled.
He wasn't aware he was doing it. If you asked, he couldn't name the tune. But it was the same tune, from when we were tiny to when we visited years later with our own families.
From his desk where he struggled to load new software into his personal computer … he whistled. From under the lift at the gas station where he drained used oil from a pickup … he whistled.
One day, during a family reunion, my sisters asked if any of us knew the name of the tune Dad whistled. All five of us remembered it; we could all hum it; but no one knew what it was.
We asked him; he didn't know and wasn't even sure what we were talking about. Neither did our mother.
All of us admitted we had whistled or hummed that odd little tune during carefree, untroubled times. It bothered us not knowing what it was.
Finally, at another of those special anniversary times, we took the folks out for a big dinner at the country club in Bella Vista, Arkansas, where they lived.
There was a band, but the folks didn't dance, so we enjoyed the music, ate a great meal and shared memories. The boys in the band were playing old standards and looked old enough to know their stuff. During a break, we cornered the bandleader.
"Is there any chance you might know this tune?" we asked. We all remembered the tune and formed a chorus line around the bandleader. He was game and wanted to help. So we hummed:
He drew a blank. We tried again, but this time I whistled. Once more, he shook his head.
Finally, one of his band members stepped up. "I think it's ‘Till I Waltz Again With You,'" he offered.
We went home happy, and Maryl looked it up and found the sheet music. It was a song by Sidney Prosen, written in 1952. That was that. Mystery solved.
Neither of our parents had any idea why that song meant anything to either of them. It was just a tune, an earworm that had captivated my Dad for most of our lives.
I often find myself whistling it … as recently as a few weeks ago, walking down the hallway at the newspaper office … retired, relaxed and deadline free.
I've whistled it for years. No idea why, but it reminds me of my Dad.
Dave Berry's Focal Point column runs every Wednesday in the My Generation section of the Tyler Paper.