My Sister, Me, and Jimmy Buffett…

Jimmy Buffett was my favourite musician. I had become a fan during my second week of University when I picked up Jimmy’s album, ‘’A White Sport’s Coat and a Pink Crustacean.’’ I found his songs amusing, inspiring and fun. I loved the Caribbean feel and the smart lyrics.

As life progressed I continued to be a huge Jimmy fan. I would get excited when he’d make a late-night appearance and couldn’t wait for the Coral Reefer Band to play. I felt like a member of a small group who supported this guy who nobody knew about. I was wrong. When ‘’Margaritaville’’ blew up, the secret was out, Jimmy was a tremendous talent. Soon, the world was craving his escapist music and buying into his messages and lifestyle.

Over the years I watched him and his brand explode. He wrote brilliant, funny books and kept releasing great albums. Soon, there were Margaritaville slot machines and sunglasses, sandals and hotels, restaurants and casinos, Jimmy had found the masses and they found him.

The whole Parrothead movement was predicated on one thing, having fun. It was something my Sister Susie and I weren’t having a lot of in July of two thousand and eight. Our Dad hadn’t been well. In fact, he had been on dialysis for eighteen years and it was starting to take a toll on his body. My Dad, Joe, never complained. No matter how terrible he felt, he never wanted to trouble my Mom. We admired and loved him with every ounce of strength in our collective bodies.

I knew the stress was constant and my Sister’s Birthday was coming up, so I wanted to do something special for her. Something that would transport us away from reality and escape for one night into the fun stratosphere.

August fourth was Susie’s Birthday, and on the morning she opened her Birthday card, two tickets fell out for a Jimmy Buffett concert at the Molson Ampitheatre in Toronto. We had great seats and she and I were both genuinely excited. The concert was happening the following Thursday night. There would be Parrothead activity all day on the Ontario Place grounds. We made plans to go in early to take in the atmosphere and to have fun.

All week we were excited about going and played Jimmy Buffett Cds on a non-stop basis in the house. Thursday we made plans to go to the concert site at around three-thirty and relax until the concert started at eight pm. We would grab some food and just take in the vibe. Unfortunately, not everything always goes to plan. Sometimes man plans and Gd laughs.

Our Dad started feeling really shitty around two that afternoon and there was no way we were leaving him with my Mom. She wouldn’t be able to deal with the situation if he got worse and we felt uncomfortable with the idea of leaving them. Susie always, always, always had her priorities right, and she said ‘’Alan, there will be another concert another time, what can we do? Dad is much more important than going to see Jimmy. We can’t go’’

It was disappointing but it was also reality. My Sister and I had long ago committed to being around for our parents. We looked at it as a gift from Gd. Nobody would ever know about our lives, as we didn’t share much information with people, but we made our choices and had no regrets. Others were focused on making money, business, having families, we were committed to keeping our parents going. We changed our lives, but neither of us had any regrets doing it. I thank Gd all the time for giving me the years I had with my Mom and Dad.

That Thursday at six o’clock, my Dad told us he didn’t understand why we weren’t at the concert in Toronto. He knew we were looking forward to it and he was feeling okay and that we should go. He knew we had been excited about attending, he said if we didn’t go he would be very upset. My Mom echoed the sentiments and Susie and I dashed to the car.

I believe we made it to Ontario Place in almost record time. Miraculously, we found a parking spot and headed in for the concert. We looked at our watches, and it was ten minutes to eight. The smell of marijuana permeated the park and beach balls were bouncing around the crowd.

We had one of the most fun and relaxing nights that we had enjoyed in years. It was sensational. Jimmy didn’t let us down, he put on an incredible show and we were transported away from every day into a magical place.

On the trip home, we talked about how much fun the concert had been and what a nice change of pace it had been.

When we walked through the front door of the house, my Dad was sitting in the living room in his favourite chair. He wanted to know everything about the concert and if we had fun. That’s all he cared about that we had enjoyed ourselves. I think when he went to bed he felt relieved that we hadn’t missed the concert, it meant a lot to him.

When I now listen to Jimmy(Channel 24 on Sirius XM) a million wonderful memories rush through my mind especially one particular evening that I spent with my Sister at his concert. It was the tonic we both needed. Jimmy Buffett did what every musician would like to do, he had a major impact on our lives for a couple of hours. He provided the marshmallow coated escapism that we craved and we would never forget it.

Alan Schwarz loves life. He is the founder of JAMS Productions, a television production company based in Toronto . His passion is writing.

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