I was listening to one of my favorite CDs the other day, when I realized I hadn’t really introduced it to my 14 year old daughter. She has heard me belting out a few of the songs here and there, but she hasn’t sat down and listened to the achingly beautiful lyrics while crying about unrequited love. Because you can’t truly understand music until a guy dumps you before prom, but after you’ve bought the dress.
So I got to thinking, what if I died tomorrow and my daughter didn’t know about this CD? Because that’s the next logical thought for me; not that I won’t be around to meet my grandchildren, but that she won’t know how life changing Aretha Franklin can be.
In order to sleep tonight I need to get these items off my chest, so here in no particular order and without too much explanation (ain’t nobody got time for that) are the 10 things my daughter needs to know, understand or experience in case of my untimely demise.
1. This is what started it all, and for my benefit we will call this an album. It’s Aretha’s Gold. Actually, you should call it, Aretha’s Gold, Baby.
2. Don’t wear too much makeup. The real you is the one with the dark circles and splotchy skin. Oh wait, that’s the real me. Regardless, you can’t see your own face. Makeup was created so other people would find you attractive and if they don’t find you attractive unless you’re slathered in foundation, they are the ones who are ugly. Deep, deep in their soul.
3. Don’t ever let a person lay their hands on you without your permission, whether it’s affection or violence, it must be on your terms. If it isn’t, move swiftly and surely away from the situation and DO NOT GO BACK. Your little brother giving you hugs does not count. But, for everyone other than your brother let me say it again, DO NOT GO BACK. People don’t change, or get better, or didn’t mean it. DO NOT GO BACK.
4. It really doesn’t matter how the laundry is folded or how the dishwasher is loaded. Let it go. Let people help you.
5. Never underestimate the value of looking someone in the eye, good table manners, and saying thank you.
6. Joni Mitchell’s album, Blue. Turn it up. Get the tissues.
7. Have empathy for others. Imagine yourself in their shoes. Turning the tables does wonders for our natural inclination to judge people.
8. Never put off doing something because you don’t like the way you look. Don’t stay home because of a pimple, or worry about putting on a swimsuit because you’ve gained weight. Life is really, really short. I lost out on having a lot of fun during my 30s because I was self-conscious and I can’t get that decade back. Joni Mitchell probably wrote a song about this.
9. I’m running out of room! Take a deep breath and read this all at once. Laugh every day, travel as much as you can, go to church, work at a job you like, always do some form of exercise, wear sunscreen, and don’t do drugs (like, don’t even try them because your brain might be all, “That’s pretty sweet!” and it’s all downhill from there). Oh, and floss. Always floss.
10. Know that I love you more than sunshine and that’s really saying something.