In 2006, Disney released ‘Disneymania 3,‘ a CD with then-contemporary stars singing classic Disney songs. One of the cuts was ‘Proud of Your Boy,’ an original song from the movie ‘Aladdin’ that was not used in the final movie. The song is meant to be sung by Aladdin, and it’s his hope to make his mother proud of him after all of his ‘messin’ up, screwin’ up times.’ I fell in love with the song, relating to the theme of wanting your folks to be proud of you.
Flash forward to some point last year, when I first heard word that Disney UK would be bringing the ‘Aladdin’ musical to the West End. What a dream come true to be part of a West End premiere in some way. As soon as the opening night date was announced, I blocked off my calendar and made sure I wasn’t traveling anywhere. I couldn’t wait to see it and to hear ‘Proud of Your Boy’ performed live.
Rewind to last month, the death of my father and the beginning of the mourning period. One of the key restrictions on a mourner is the ban on listening to live music. This applies to the full 12 month period of mourning. Once the shock of my father’s passing began to settle, I began reviewing all of my travels and plans in a new light. One issue was finding a minyan, as discussed last time. Another was the long-awaited opening night. Should I attend? It was work-related, and there is an exception to the rules – one can listen to music or attend a celebration if it is related to your work – so a wedding DJ can still earn a living. There is even a line of thinking that the average person can attend a celebration such as a wedding if he/she performs some part of the ceremony at the wedding, like washing the groom’s hands. Certainly I was expected to attend the event as a senior leader, and it was also going to be the first time some of our newest talent were attending an official Disney event, so I wanted to be there for them. And in my heart, well, I just wanted to go.
As I sat shiva, I asked my mother what I should do – should I attend the event? ‘Would you be expected to be there?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Will your boss be there?’ ‘Probably.’ ‘You should go.’ ‘Ok.’ I didn’t argue all that much.
It was fun to meet two of our newest series talent, Jade and Jayden, as they came off their first carpet experience. It was the first time they would hear their names called by press and photogs, and I suspect not the last. I girded myself for ‘Proud’ – concerned I would lose it amongst my colleagues. Turns out the song is not only included in the musical, but is given special prominence as the ‘I wish’ song, giving Aladdin his big motivation for the musical – he wants to prove he is much more than just a street rat. And of course it’s reprised a few times. But I made it through without shedding a tear. The musical itself was a lot of fun – great music, strong performances and lots of theatrical magic – particularly the flying carpet. Even if I weren’t a Disney employee I would recommend it for families and those who love the film.
The capstone to the mourning process is the laying of the headstone on the grave. The tradition in Israel is to lay the headstone at the end of the Shloshim (30 day period after the death). In the US it can be six or twelve months. We followed the Israeli custom, and held the Mekever (headstone laying ceremony) this past week. It was a short but powerful affair, with a few prayers said and my niece delivering a beautiful speech. It’s a nice headstone as these things go, nothing too ornate. The quote on the headstone is from Proverbs and reads ‘Above all that thou guardest keep thy heart; for out of it are the issues of life.’ Laying the stone gives just a bit of closure for us.
So as Shloshim ends, and the rest of my year-long mourning period stretches ahead of me, how do I make my Dad proud? I managed to say the Kadish for him every day, but I don’t think I can keep that up. So what then, once a week? Twice a week? I have a new-found solace in worship – is this temporary to comfort my grief? Is this hitting something deeper within me? I have all sorts of trips and holidays planned this summer, what is the right balance? How do I make him proud?
You’ll see now comes the better part
Someone’s gonna make good
Cross his stupid heart
Make good and finally make you
Proud of your boy