The Story Behind "Don't Forget"

The Story Behind "Don't Forget"

Chapter 4 - Don’t Forget

(This is also part of a new book Jake is writing called Hollow: the story of how a boy turned childhood trauma into music)

My mom and dad’s relationship was definitely in turmoil long before she was shot by her latest boyfriend, Bill.  Thinking back, both of my parents were extreme in many ways, and it seems as though neither of them would back down to anyone, including each other. 


Dad would often come home late with various “injuries” from fights he’d gotten into at the bar.  He’d gotten his two front teeth punched out once, been thrown to the gravel on a few occasions, and we even found him sleeping in grandpa’s bathtub one morning.  He explained that his bloody tongue was from being kicked in the mouth by someone who knew tae-kwon-do. Although he claimed that he ended up victorious at the end of these brawls, they certainly came with physical injuries to him and emotional wounds to us kids.     


One evening mom came to visit us at my grandpa’s house (my dad’s dad).  Grandpa’s house was a basic single-story one bathroom, 3 bedroom house. It had a cozy, yet small kitchen so if you were sitting on one side of the kitchen table you could see into the living room, but if you were on the other side of the table you could see out the kitchen window into the driveway.  I recall sitting on my mom’s lap while she was playing cards at the kitchen table; we were sitting on the side that could see out into the driveway. It was a warm summer night and the windows were open to allow the breeze to come in. Life was good for a brief moment.


But suddenly I heard a rumbling sound coming up the street.  It was getting louder and seemed to turn from a subtle rumble to a loud roar.  I immediately knew it was the sound of Harley Davidson Motorcycles.  


Mom was what you would call a “biker chick.”  As far as I can remember she was hanging out with Harley riders.  After my parents divorce, my dad would take us to the bars and church festivals with him.  On one occasion, we coincidentally met up with mom, who was with her “new friends.” She was wearing a black leather vest and a doo-rag bandana on her head.  She knelt down to get eye level with me and handed me a $5 bill to play games with. Then she was off again, like a phantom in a way, and it would be a long time before we saw her again.  


Back to the story of sitting with mom and grandpa at grandpa’s kitchen table, the Harley sound was coming from two bikers who pulled into the driveway.  I heard my mom say that it was Dave and Snake. Although I was too young to understand how relationships worked, I later understood that Dave must have been mom’s boyfriend after her and dad divorced.  I’ve seen him before at her home in Milwaukee but I really didn’t know much about him, other than he often breathed heavily, he was slightly overweight, and I can recall him trying to kick start his motorcycle one time in an alley-way behind mom’s house.  


On this particular night Dave brought his friend with him and I’m assuming they were not happy to find my mom at my dad’s house (I think we were living with grandpa at the time).  When my mom looked out the window and realized it was Dave, she immediately tried to put me down and push me under the table. Dad came charging into the kitchen from the living room area and I heard him say “watch out, I’m going downstairs to grab my gun.”  Dad’s room was in grandpa’s basement and in order to get to the stairs he had to pass through the kitchen. 


Seconds later he came running up with his rifle and the next thing I knew there were shots fired out in grandpa’s driveway.  Then I heard the motorcycles start up and both bikers were gone. Dad shot at the ground beneath their bikes to scare them off.  I have no idea what was said prior to this or after this, but I do know that sirens were all over grandpa’s driveway soon thereafter.  We watched out the window while dad was handcuffed and put into a squad car.  


That experience evolved into a song I titled, “Don’t Forget.”   


“Don’t Forget” 

Once Daddy told me

When i was young 

Step aside boy 

I’m going down stairs

To grab my gun


And when he came back 

With it loaded with one

He was so raw

Made the outlaws

Run


He shot at the ground

Beneath their feet

They took off real quick

Right down that street

They never did come back

To admit defeat

The cops came with cuffs

And threw dad in the

Backseat


Dad told me 

Before i grew up

You better at least try

don’t be afraid to screw up

And when you get down

I know just what to do

Put your arms around my waist

And squeeze

‘Til you turn blue


Dad told me 

when i was a young teen

You gotta have hope, ambitions, and dreams

‘Cuz life doesn’t always go the way 

That it seems

So i pray that you make it

Through the valleys and the streams


And when my time is up

I hope it’s well understood

don’t forget

I did the best that i could

When my days are over

I hope you understand

My man

And don’t forget

I did the best that i can


Daddy showed me

When i was young

How to be a man

And stand up to anyone

But when we got home

We were all stunned

To see him sleeping in the bathtub

With a bloody tongue


Dad showed me

How to deal with girls

When they play their mind games

Try to mess with your world

Don’t ever take their fits man

But give’em a whirl

Make’em feel like they’re better

Than a diamond or a pearl


Dad told me when i was a young teen

You gotta have hope, ambitions, 

And dreams

‘Cuz life doesn’t always go the way that it seems

So i pray that you make it

Through the valleys and the streams


And when my time is up

I hope it’s well understood

don’t forget

I did the best that i could

When my days are over

I hope you understand

My man

And don’t forget

I did the best that i can


Daddy taught me

When i was young

How to keep my cool

No matter what

Havin’ so much fun

The secret that he knows

That helps him survive

Is none of us will make it

Out of here alive

Dad told me 

When i was a young man

You gotta have fun

Anyway that you can

Cuz life doesn’t always go 

The way that you planned

You don’t gotta be the best

Be the best that you can


And when my time is up

I hope it’s well understood

don’t forget

I did the best that i could

When my days are over

I hope you understand

My man

And don’t forget

I did the best that i can