Drum Corps International
I'm proud of you, Dad

I'm proud of you, Dad

by Drum Corps International

I learned how proud my dad was of me because of drum corps.



My father, Hilmer Boo, was a man of relatively few words. He let his actions speak more than his words. The Boo relatives referred to that as a form of Swedish stoicism. Much of our extended family didn't really express their emotions, nor wear them on their sleeves. It's not that they didn't have any, but it likely had more to do with how they were raised as rugged farmers who never complained about having to work in the heat of summer or the frigid cold of northwest Indiana winters.



When Dad received his diploma from high school in November of 2005, 64 years after the rest of his class, a reporter from the Chesterton Tribune asked him what he thought of the honor. He responded, "I think it's nice." And that pretty much summed it up for him.



The story was picked up by the Tehachapi News in California. The writer referred to the bestowing of the diploma as one of "the little stories from the heartland that define our nation." He went on to write about the nonchalance of Dad saying it was "nice" to get a diploma 64 years later.



In the Fanfare column of November 15, 2005, I wrote about my pride in my Dad's accomplishment. I guess my parents' stoicism didn't really rub off on me, or else I wouldn't have become a writer.



I never really knew what Dad thought of me being in a drum corps. He always went along with whatever path I chose in life, but I didn't know what his real thoughts were of me giving up my summer job to essentially "run off to join the circus."



Dad and Mom came to one or two drum corps shows a year. And then for months afterward, I would run into people in town who would share with me that Dad couldn't stop talking about how proud he was to see me in the Cavaliers, how sharp I looked in uniform, and how happy he was that I was content doing something I enjoyed.



So Dad really was proud of me. It was great to hear that, even if it was expressed via surrogates. I never let on that I knew that his Swedish stoicism was just a front.



In the past five months, you may have noticed there have been but just a few Fanfare columns on DCI.org. I've only been in my own home less than two weeks after four and a half months of living at my parents' house, caring for my deaf, blind and mute brother while Mom recovered from knee surgery and Dad ended up in the hospital after a bad fall. They both stayed in the same room in the nursing home, where they lived together for three months before Mom returned.



There's something funny about care giving that sucks the creativity out of one's being. I've come to realize just how precious inspiration is to the art of creating and it makes me appreciate all the much more those people who conceive the wonderful shows we see on the field each summer.



But now I have the inspiration to write again, not because I want to write, but because I need to write.



My father passed away last Friday. Considering the horrible ravages that Alzheimer's brought upon him, his death was quiet and merciful. I feel a strange sense of comfort that he's no longer suffering from a disease he could neither comprehend nor overcome.



The outpouring of love and support from those I know—as well as people I've never met—in the drum corps world has been consoling. The number of those who have responded to me via DrumCorpsPlanet.com has been overpowering. And my Cavalier brethren, many whom I have never met as well, have come to my aid because we're all brothers and that's just what a family does.



Yes, as drum corps fans we argue over rules changes, developments in instrumentation, as well as show concepts, winners and placements and score spreads in even the most minute sub-captions and anything else we can think about; but when it all comes down to what's important, we're there for one another. We know we need each other to keep this activity alive.



At the beginning of this column, I mentioned that I learned how proud my dad was of me because of drum corps. I always knew he was, but because of his stoicism, I had never heard it directly from him.



Just a couple weeks ago, while he lay in bed in the nursing home, unable to say much of anything, I told him I loved him and I was proud of him. He started caressing my hand with his thumb, making ovals in my palm as his fingers held on for dear life to the backside of my hand.



And with energy he probably didn't have to spare, he said rather clearly, "I love you too, and I'm proud of you."



The wake for Hilmer Boo will be held Friday, March 7 from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Steger Memorial Chapel, 3045 Chicago Road, Steger, IL 60475. Services will be held in the same location at 11 a.m. on Saturday.




Michael Boo was a member of the Cavaliers from 1975-1977. He has written about the drum corps activity for more than a quarter century and serves as a staff writer for various Drum Corps International print and Web projects. Boo has written for numerous other publications and has published an honors-winning book on the history of figure skating.



As an accomplished composer, Boo holds a bachelor's degree in music education and a master's degree in music theory and composition. He resides in Chesterton, Ind.

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