The Jukebox

Everyone has their own version of the “The Jukebox” chronicle. One comes from my mother Linda, who insists hers is accurate. The other comes from my father Stan, who quietly and firmly maintains his position.

One thing no one can argue about is how and when the Jukebox came into our possession. My father found the Jukebox at a garage sale and as a connoisseur of rare junque (or, “junk” as my mother calls it), paid top dollar ($45), which was a lot back in 1984.

The Jukebox had a cassette deck, an 8-track player and a hi-fi record player. Our listening collection consisted of Abba’s Super Trooper and The Stand by Me soundtrack. As the music played, circular lights on the screen would flash. It was as close to a discothèque as two children were going to get.

Somewhere between 1989 and 1991 Dad decided, without our consent or knowledge, to sell the Jukebox at a garage sale. I think it’s fair to say Michelle and I were damaged by the loss. We grieved for the Jukebox the way you would grieve a pet, or a beloved television program.

We tried to move on with our lives. Michelle completed high school, had a stint at community college and a short-lived bible college experience. She then moved to Vancouver and there she met and married Chris. Her life was complete, almost.

I was a shell. I tried chocolate, binge drinking and going to the discothèque to dull the pain. Nothing seemed to work. I completed high school, had a stint at community college, and a short-lived bible college experience: I tried to fill the Jukebox-sized void in my life with God. I moved to Vancouver and I met and married a wonderful man named Rhys. My life was complete, almost.

Back home, Stan and Linda also had a void in their lives. They thought they were just missing their daughters (both had moved from home). They tried antiques and llamas to fill the void in their lives. Some nights Stan lay awake all night, the guilt overwhelming him like the unbearable cold of the North.

Then one day the phone rang. My mother picked up the receiver, and in her dulcet, polite tone said, “Hello?” A woman was calling to say that her husband, also a connoisseur of rare junque, had passed away and she wanted to donate several items to the woman’s shelter where my mother works. My mother went to the woman’s house to assess the items when something caught her eye.

It was our Jukebox, the very one. It was a little worse for wear some fifteen years later, with a crack in the wood panelling and a broken record player, but it didn’t matter: the Jukebox was coming home.

If you love something, let it go. If it comes back to you, it’s yours. If it doesn’t, it never was.

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