I’ve loved listening to James Blount since I saw him perform in a small stadium in Berlin during World Cup Week in 2006 . I may have been the only dry-eyed guy in a crowd of 4,999 sobbing women while he sang “You’re Beautiful”. But what I didn’t know was the depth and breadth of his experiences and how they informed his raw emotional craft. A former reconnaissance officer in the Life Guards regiment of the British Army, he served under NATO during the 1999 Kosovo War.
I imagine it had quite an effect.
As I’ve written before on my blog, the passing of my father was a difficult and transformative experience for me. In my eulogy to him, I talked about how he had been my protector and my guide, and how I hoped to carry on his legacy by becoming the same kind of protector for my own family. This idea of becoming the apex protector of the family is something that I think a lot of sons grapple with as they watch their fathers age and eventually pass away. There’s a sense of responsibility that comes with this role, a feeling that we have to be strong for our loved ones even as we mourn the loss of our own fathers. For me, one of the things that helped me deal with my father’s passing was music. Specifically, the song “Chase the Monsters Away” as sung by James Blount to his dad Colonel Charles Blount while he has stage four chronic kidney disease.
It’s a powerful video to watch.
“I’ll chase the monsters away
So you can sleep soundly
I’ll carry you safe to shore
When the waves are crashing down
And I’ll love you with all my heart
Like nobody else has done
I’ll chase the monsters away
And make sure you’re the one”
These words spoke to me in a way that few other things could at the time. They encapsulated the idea of becoming the protector for my family that I had talked about in my eulogy to my father, and they gave me a sense of purpose and direction in the midst of my grief. Of course, becoming the apex protector of the family is easier said than done. It’s not just a matter of being strong and fearless in the face of adversity; it’s also about being there for your loved ones in whatever way they need you, whether that means listening to them, comforting them, or just being present.
But as difficult as it can be to take on this role, I truly believe that it’s one of the most important things we can do as sons. Our fathers may no longer be with us, but their legacy lives on in the way we treat our families and the way we protect and care for them. In the end, I think that’s what my father would have wanted for me and for our family. He would have wanted me to carry on his legacy of love and protection, to be the kind of father and husband that he was, and to chase the monsters away for those I love, just as he did for me.
If you’re a son who’s dealing with the aging and passing of your father, know that you’re not alone.