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A father holds out hope for one final request

I think my son Matt must be one of the world's best guitar players. How do I know this? People tell me so.

The few times I have witnessed him instructing others I see awe and adulation in the faces of his students. I think some are not listening, just admiring.

When he was 11 years old we were shopping in a mall in Minneapolis. I was finished, but I couldn't find Matt. After scouting around, there he was in a music shop talking to a salesman about a guitar. Later that day, Matt asked if I would buy the guitar for him. "It's just $100, Dad."

There were several more guitars to follow. My plan for him was college; his, too. After five years, he announced he was through with college as he had taken every music course offered in the Tampa Bay area. You see, to musicians, if it ain't music, it's not worth their time.

His first gig after high school was in a kind of seedy saloon. He was fined $100 for illegal parking. His fee was wiped out. While listening to the music, I sent a note to the leader of the band for a request, a song by the Beatles. "Sorry, no requests, sir," came the answer. So I attached a $100 bill to the next note. "Just this one request, sir." I listened and indulged in pride. His fee was paid.

Some years later, Matt lamented that he could not make a gig because his truck was broken. While he was playing, I sent a $100 bill anonymously to him. Between sets, over the microphone came, "Thanks, Dad."

Recently, he has been playing all over Europe with a band called Savatage. I understand they are becoming quite famous. Their fame has reached Citrus County. A couple of weeks ago, Matt was lecturing at a Homosassa music store and he was explaining the new sound system, a little box that "You can carry around with you." Marvelous, indeed. But I wondered about all those big machines (that I helped pay for) that he hauled around in his truck for years.

Matt has been invited to emcee and judge the Battle of the Bands on Saturday, with part of the proceeds going to the Jessica Lunsford Foundation. A local radio station was to retain him and provide accompaniment players. I wondered why he needed other players when he has been playing the national anthem at Disney World solo on the Fourth of July these past few years.

It turns out that the funding for the other players fell through. Musicians face this kind of indignity all the time. He said he could not perform as he's practicing daily for a new song by Savatage.

I want him to do this, to play in Citrus County. I want my friends at the Harley-Davidson dealership, at Homosassa Music, little Jessica Lunsford's family, my special friend who put this whole program together, and his fine sponsors at the radio station, to hear him play.

It is probably my last opportunity. Due to a car accident, I am in a wheelchair and not given long to live.

But I do have $100.

I believe I'll see him play on Saturday.