There are really no words sufficient to describe the depth of the love I have for my dad, L. Michael McQuerrey, Mr. Mac, Papa Mac. And I know my love for him is shared by hundreds, maybe thousands, of people. He has been a rock in my life and the lives of many others. He has spent 35 years teaching, loving, mentoring, and ministering to teenagers through music. As I watched his final concert on Tuesday night, the emotions that welled up inside me were astonishing.
How does one really digest the last concert performed by one of Mac's high school choirs? Could it really be that this was the culmination of 35 years? How would life be without Christmas concerts, Spring festivals, choir tours, booster meetings, and how would the next generation of Kern County musicians fare without this man? It is a shame that anyone would live this life without being under the tutelage of Mac at some point.
And so the tears flowed. They flowed and flowed...in memory and celebration of Mac's career. I looked around at hundreds of teary faces while the Liberty kids sang Billy Joel's "Lullaby." "Goodnight my angel, now it's time to dream. And dream how wonderful your life will be. Someday, your child may cry, and if you sing this lullabye, then in your heart, there will always be a part of me...." dedicated formally to my babies, Mac's grand babies, but really, a dedication and promise to all those kids out there...some now in their 50's. Mac will never forget you or the time he spent with you...loving you, teaching you, singing with you, laughing with you, making fun of you.
And that is a part of Mac too...the making fun. He kids and jokes and can really call you out when you do something stupid. But he can do that, because he's Mac. Because he loves you. Because you know in your heart he would do anything for you and that his greatest joy and goal is to see you succeed. If he makes fun of the stupid part of you long enough, he knows you might just knock it off and get your "rear in gear!"
There are innumerable penguins, frogs, and other mementos decorating my dad's home office now--the penguins started when his Arvin High kids determined my tuxedo-clad father looked remarkably similar to one. The frogs? Well, the man likes frogs. I always liked the acronym "Full Reliance On God" (FROG) that reminds me of my dad's ability to commit his life to those loathsome (at times) teenagers only by the grace of a higher power. I wondered sometimes why such a strong, powerful man had so many stuffed animals in his office. I am beginning to understand that they remind him, I think, of the love he was able to extract from all those cool teenagers--so cool and yet so in love with Mac, that they purchased and presented fuzzy creatures to him as tokens of their devotion.
He didn't just teach his kids to be fabulous musicians. He taught values, compassion, etiquette, grammar, loyalty, commitment and poise. We are all better people for having sung under his direction. (or in my case, for having lived through it :)).
As with every concert for 35 years, this one ended with an invitation for all Mac's former choir members to join the choir on stage for, "The Lord Bless You and Keep You." There were so many people on stage, I thought it might fall down, and it was beautiful. I just listened from my seat in the audience, sitting next to my beloved husband, treasuring our three awesome blessings, crying more tears than I care to admit, and praising God...for all that my dad is and all he has been for others.
And I selfishly thought, "I can't wait to have this sweet retired man all to myself!!!"
I love you Papa Mac.