For those of you who have read Dad's books, you're thinking, Wow! That is really arrogant of her. Why would she dream that she could do such a thing?
That's just it, though. It was a dream; I couldn't help it that my brain cooked up this devastating scenario while I was unable to check it. Anyway, listen: that's not the point. The haze of emotions I felt in this dream reached their climax when I had the terrible thought, Man, I hope Dad finished the story in rough draft. I hope all I have to do is flesh it out or revise it a little. Otherwise, there's no way. I'll let him down. I'll never do it justice!
I think I may be Dad's number 1 fan. This would, of course, be hotly contested by my mom and at least one if not all of my siblings and possibly the fans of his Kelven's Riddle fantasy books. But, hey, they're not writing this, so it stands for now. I am Daniel Hylton's number 1 fan!
And it's not just this story, the story of Aram in Kelven's Riddle, though of course I must take this moment to boast that I have read the first three books in that series at least two times apiece and that my dad gave me the great honor of reading them before they were quite done. Still it's more than my dad's ability to tell a great story that gives me such immense respect for his talent; it's his music, too.
Songs I've sung to my children since they were babies - many of them Dad wrote. I have my definite favorites, Runnin' From the Devil and Nebraska, neither of which I play well on the guitar, Hot Summer Sunday which I do. There are others that are my favorites, too, just not suited to be sung to little children, like Dark Streets, Dirty Old Town and Eagle's Eye which contains some of the most brilliant lyrics my dad ever wrote.
I have a colossal fear that my dad will not write down the lyrics to the dozens of songs he wrote, and so they will be lost to his descendants. He does not play them as regularly as he did when we lived near Nashville; he already forgets them at times when he's playing at family gatherings, his voice faltering on a line and his fingers pausing at the strings of his guitar. Usually, Mom, Vinca, and I remind him of the right words. Then we all sigh and chorus, "They're your songs!"
I don't want to lose these songs. I don't want to forget the lyrics to Where's the Little Girl, the song Dad played for me on my wedding day and the greatest father/daughter song of all time. I want to have the lyrics and tablature to Gone in a Whirlwind and Chris and the Boys, so that I can raise my children on their rich song inheritance, plucking away at memories as well as instrumental strings. I've begged for them at Christmas a few times, but Dad has never been able to find the time and energy to invest in going through the catalogue of his music he keeps stowed away in his head. I just hope he has them written down somewhere, some place.
I have The Mountain at the Middle of the World, The Walking Flame and The Sword of Heaven; my children will get their story inheritance from the man they call Paca, their grandpa. But they deserve his music. And certainly, such things of brilliance, whether popularly known or not, should never pass away.