Sunshine on My Shoulders Makes Me Happy

It’s a gorgeous fall mornings where the sky is bright blue and cloudless providing a beautiful backdrop for the glowing yellow and orange maple trees that line the streets where we walk.

Addie, my seven year old Bernese Mountain dog and I are on our morning walk. We are out investigating…her focus is the smells and mine is my thoughts.sunshine

As I feel the warmth of the sun I hear John Denver singing, “Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy”…. I smile as I haven’t thought about him in awhile though he was an important fixture in my family growing up. His record albums were played over and over at our house and we attended many of his concerts throughout the years. His music and message have always had a positive impact on my life and I know my connection to nature was certainly enhanced by John’s music.

My first concert ever was a John Denver concert. It was at University of Dayton arena in 1975. I was 13. I remember having terrible cramps that night, but it didn’t take too long for the soaring music and images of eagles and mountains to take my mind off my teen girl discomfort. I’ll never forget my first one. (Soon to be followed by The Osmonds, The Bee Gees, Rolling Stones, Luther Vandross and more)

We, my mom, dad and three brothers, went to many of John Denver’s concerts and in fact it was one of the last big events we did as a family before my dad’s sudden death at age 47. I was 16.

It was a blur of activity during the days that immediately followed his death, but it was my mom who insisted that John Denver was played over the sound system at the funeral home rather than the typical organ music and hymns. That simple touch was so meaningful and memorable for us as we tried to stay grounded during those confusing days.

A few years passed and Mom took the boys and I to anotherJohn Denver concert in Cincinnati.

It might have been for my birthday as a couple of my girlfriends went as well. I was full of anticipation…partly excited to see John in concert again and partly because I wasn’t entirely sure I could keep my emotions at bay as I thought about Dad. I’ve never been one to show my emotions easily in public.

The show was getting ready to start went a couple of men on the concert tour crew came to our seats. When they confirmed we were the family they were looking for, it was revealed that we would be going backstage after the concert to meet John! OMG!

Mom had written a letter to him explaining about his importance to us and how he had comforted all of us in the darkest of days. He got word of the letter and wanted to meet us and say hello. In fact he mentioned it during the concert!

While I’m positive I said nothing clever or memorable to him, it was a pleasure to meet him and find him to be as down to earth and funny in person as he was on stage. I will never forget that night.

I smile as I pull Addie away from yet another interesting smell and we continue our journey home. I am so grateful for the warm sunshine, my incredible mother, the talent and environmental passion of John Denver and all the memories of Dad and going to the concerts together. Think I might try to listen to my favorites today just for fun.

  1. Totally forgot u guys got to meet JD…so cool.. I think of fireplaces when I think of him..

  2. Loved the story………a John Denver fan-me too. Went to my little beach in Carlsbad and wished you were there. Glad you have sun in the fall in Ohio. Enjoy your fall walks with Addie and give her a hug for me. And a special hug for your mom. Craft on girl?⛱walk in the light.

  3. This is really a wonderful story, Amy! We also love JD, and I saw him in Toledo, Ohio…where he sang his song about Saturday night in Toledo, Ohio. Fond memories. And I loved reading about his connection with your dad. Keep writing!

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