Canada Now’s Jeff Sammut: How do I tell my son John Lennon is dead?

John Lennon
John Lennon

I recently had Jim Beviglia, author of a new book called “Counting Down The Beatles: Their 100 Finest Songs” on Canada Now (weekdays 10 am-12 pm ET on SiriusXM Canada Talks Channel 167).  My conversation with Jim reminded me of a moment I had with my son not that long ago.

Fatherhood. Nobody told me there’d be days like these. Strange days indeed! Strange days indeed.

I’m pushing 40 and I’m the proud father of 2 boys, the first of which is the sweetest 3 year old ever created. Trust me, this isn’t just bias talking. You’d know it if you met him too. I’ve always wanted a child I could love and share my interests with, but I’ve never dreamed as big as having this amazing little boy.

But here I am, with him, and to extend my dreams even further, he’s adopted my love and admiration of the greatest rock band ever assembled, The Beatles. He can name John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr every time we walk by one of my many posters hung in our house. Actually, he has the biggest one hanging in his new “big boy” room. He especially loves John. And it never fails, he spots him a mile away as if Lennon himself is walking down the street. “John Lennon!!!!! Look, Daddy, John Lennon!!!!!” Shorter hair and in a suit. Longer hair, wearing a fur coat. Glasses on, glasses off. Sideburns, moustache, beard, clean-shaven, doesn’t matter. “John Lennon!!!!”

After our hearing selections from the vast Beatles catalogue for days and months on end, I’ve introduced him to their videos on YouTube. It’s become a more-than-daily routine that both of us can’t get enough of. In many ways, he’s re-introduced me to the devotion I’ve had for the Fab 4 ever since I can remember.

Well hold on, I CAN remember. And I have my brother to thank for that.

He gave me many things, one of which was his birthday when I arrived 9 years to the day after he did. But the one I am most thankful for is The Beatles. And part of that gift was the eventual knowledge of Lennon’s tragic death. I recall my brother gently breaking the news, a couple years after it actually happened. I stood there, listening to my brother describe the most supreme injustice I had ever heard of to that point in my young life, and staring at the Beatles picture we had hanging in our parents’ cozy basement (remember John Ritter’s character “Jack Tripper” on “Three’s Company”? The same one hung in his bedroom.). My focus was on my favourite, and apparently deceased, Beatle. Even at an age not much older than my son, I wondered “How could one be angry at someone so talented? He sang about love and peace. Isn’t that a good thing?”

The news of Lennon’s death hurt me. It hurt me a lot. There’s a little piece of me that is broken and always will be. And this will hurt my son. And I’m the one who has to break a little piece of my son. I’m not sure I’ll do any better than how my brother did and I’m terrified to try. But I’ll do it one day and I’ll grieve all over again, with my Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful Boy.