The mellifluous strains of Natalie Cole singing with her father, Nat King Cole, filled my office. Through digital remastering of the original recordings, a new album of songs combining the classic standards of Nat King Cole singing a duet with his daughter, Natalie Cole, was created. The twist was Nat King Cole passed away twenty-five years earlier when Natalie was only fifteen years old. Thus, although she may have sung a duet with her father, it was never released as a formal recording until this touching musical tribute. Released in 1991, the album entitled, “Unforgettable…With Love” was a worldwide sensation, eventually winning the Grammy for Album of the Year and the signature title song, “Unforgettable” was honored with Record of the Year.
Although it never received the same accolades, I also had an opportunity to play a duet with my father. My father was a self-taught musician and quite adept on the ukulele and voice. Countless mornings were spent driving to school listening to him sing along to Frank Sinatra on the radio, inculcating me with my love for the same genre of music. Although he often heard me practicing my guitar, I never received many verbal confirmations that he approved of my playing. One afternoon, I was sitting in our family room, working out an arrangement of Frank Sinatra’s song, “My Way”. My father’s ears perked up and he said, “Let’s do a duet.” For the next hour, we played a duet, my father alternatively singing and playing his ukulele while I accompanied him on my guitar. My father and I never played a duet again and perhaps this is why it is so special to me. It was a very personal encounter and a touching confirmation that my father approved of my music. To this day, it still warms my heart and inspires me to continue playing. On his 80th birthday, a few years before he passed away, I was honored and delighted to present him a recorded collection of some of his favorite songs that I performed on my guitar.
And they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross.
Mark 15:21 (ESV)
On the road to the Cross, Jesus Christ, exhausted and wracked with pain from his torture by the Roman soldiers, was forced to carry the heavy wooden Cross to the site of His Crucifixion. Unable to sustain the load, the soldiers recruited Simon of Cyrene to assist Jesus and carry His Cross. Simon’s unique encounter with Jesus Christ left a very profound impression upon him. In the Gospel of Mark, it is clear from the context of this verse that the readers and audience of the time would have been familiar with Simon’s sons, Alexander and Rufus. We later learn from Paul’s letter to the Romans that Rufus and his mother, the son, and wife of Simon, were important supporters of the Apostle Paul’s ministry. Two generations of faithful support all began with a very personal encounter with Jesus Christ.
Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; also his mother, who has been a mother to me as well.
Romans 16:13 (ESV)
I will always cherish my musical duet with my father. As God’s Word vividly illustrates, one encounter may change the course of an entire life. May all of us be blessed with many special encounters through God’s providence.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.