I answered the office phone. My husband asked, “Have you heard?”

“Heard what?” My mind immediately jumped to last night’s terrible event in Las Vegas. Did we know someone who had been killed or hurt at the country concert?

“Tom Petty died.”

His words shocked me. The refrain ‘the day the music died’ from American Pie became true for me at that moment. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, the Traveling Wilburys, and Mudcrutch played us through many miles as we drove across the country, while we worked, and anytime we wanted to sing a song we knew the words to. Tom always had a song that fit the occasion.

My husband’s been a Petty fan since he was a teenager. While stationed in Korea, he bought the Wildflowers album as soon as it came out in 1994. It passed the time on shuttles from Camp Stanton to other military camps and to Seoul. He listened to it play, non-stop.

Coming home on his mid-tour leave, he made a mistake and let me listen to it. I fell in love with the entire album. Needless to say, the CD didn’t go back to Korea. It became our life’s song as the boys and I drove up and down the Sierra Nevada mountain we lived on to school, for supplies, and to karate class:

Time To Move On – The boys wanted their dad, and I wanted my best friend, without him life had stalled. These were the days before cell phones and the Internet. I had to wake up three very tired boys at 4AM on Saturdays so they could talk to Dad before he went to sleep.

You Don’t Know How it Feels – Why do people just assume things about you? This became my anthem.

It’s Good To Be King – Such a fun song. Then we heard it live. What a song.

Cabin Down Below, House in the Woods – Tom was singing about us, right?

Wake Up Time – Oh my goodness! The lyrics say it all. My man was a poor boy who wanted to come home.

Wildflowers stayed in the car from December until I picked up my husband from the San Francisco Airport in April. In August, he took me to my first rock concert at Merriweather Post Pavilion to hear Tom Petty on his Wildflower tour. What a night.

As I write this, I don’t know Tom’s status. The last I heard he was taken off life support. Our thoughts are with Tom and his family. Tom Petty, you will be missed but your legacy will live in our hearts.

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