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Que Sera, Sera

Megastar, Doris Day, will forever be one of my all time favorite actresses. Her birthday was April 3rd, so I’d like to take some time to remember and acknowledge this beautiful woman for what she gave to me—the ability to remember.

Doris Day was born Doris Mary Ann Kapplehoff on April 3, 1922. She would later take on the shorter stage name, Doris Day, after the song she sang, “Day By Day”. It suited her. She was beautiful, like a sunny day. Her golden tan skin showcased her bright white smile and sparkling blue eyes. Her hair was like a platinum crown of glory. She was everyone's sweetheart, and Hollywood’s little darling. The movies she was cast in portrayed her as the same. She had a voice that garnered her 21 Billboard top 10 hits. One of those well known hits was Que Sera, Sera.

I recently learned a fun fact about Doris Day and that beloved song. Que Sera, Sera was written for Alfred Hitchcock’s 1956 thriller, “The Man Who Knew Too Much” starring Day and Jimmy Stewart. Initially, she refused to sing the song, calling it a “children's song”. She was pressured by the studio to do it, and sang the song in only one take. Afterward she remarked, “That’s the last time you’ll ever hear that song.” Que Sera Sera became a top hit in its day, as well as the theme song for Doris Day’s television series. It’s also one of my all time favorite songs. Here’s why.

I have wonderful memories of watching The Doris Day Show on T.V. when I was very young. The best part of those memories is how my dad would sing Que Sera, Sera to me as a lullaby. Once I was in bed, I would excitedly wait for Dad to come in to say goodnight and sit on the edge of my bed. I would then crawl into his loving arms so he could rock me back and forth, and sing Que Sera, Sera. “Que Sera, Sera. Whatever will be, will be. The future’s not ours to see. Que Sera, Sera. What will be, will be”.  Of course he would sing other songs as well, but Que Sera, Sera was my favorite. To this day, I love that song. I’ve even learned how to play it on my ukulele.

My dad passed away in 2012. During his last month with us, I stayed at my parents home to be with my mom and to help care for my dad while he was on hospice. It was an honor for me to be there, yet very difficult. Anyone who has experienced the death of a loved one knows how painful and emotional it is to watch them slip away, especially when they’re suffering. I sat next to my dad as he passed away. I watched him go. After he was gone, I couldn’t get the picture of him dying out of my head. As a matter of fact, I couldn’t remember him in any other way. None of the happy memories I had of him were available to me anymore. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t bring them back to my mind. If he ever visited me when I was asleep and dreaming, he was pale and thin and wearing a hospital gown. He looked sad, and he never said a word in my dreams. This went on for the entire first year after he passed away. It was killing me. My therapist told me that this was a normal part of grieving…a P.T.S.D. of sorts. But I hated it. I feared I would never be able to remember my dad again. For me, that was like two deaths; The death of my dad physically, and the death of his memory. I couldn’t let that happen. I had to do something. Something that would give me a sense of permanence. Something that would be a forever reminder that my dad was still with me in my heart and memory.

Then, it came to me. Que Sera Sera. The memory of him rocking me and singing that song to me filled my head. It warmed me…made me feel secure. I then made a decision that I considered to be a somewhat drastic one. I decided to get a tattoo. At 48 years old, it would be my very first one. It would say, Que Sera Sera with my dad’s initials DMC 1928-2012. To be honest, it was extremely painful. I had no idea just how much it would hurt. Maybe it was that physical pain that, in a sense, jolted me loose and triggered my memories once again. Now, all I had to do was look down at the black ink on my ankle, Que Sera Sera, DMC 1928-2012, and the memories would come flooding in. Sometimes, I’d reach down and run my fingers over the letters, and it reassured me that I would never forget my dad. He’d always be with me…wherever I go. And the best part? I started dreaming about him—young, full of color, talking and laughing.

I suppose I should add a disclaimer. I am in no way endorsing tattoos, nor am I against them. I have one…only one. To each his own in that regard. I don’t have an answer as to why getting that tattoo helped me after my dad died, but I’m grateful that it did. And, I’m truly grateful that Doris Day agreed to record that wonderful song in the first place.

Que Sera, Sera. Whatever will be, will be.

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What a beautiful story of the love you have for your Dad and that song! My Melissa loves Doris Day and has seen all of her movies. It always intrigued me that she loved Doris Days movies. Your words brought me to tears Mary. I love that you decided to get that tattoo. Grief is such a personal journey, and every one of us grieve in our own way. Thank you for sharing your pain and your joy of finding something that brought back a good memory of your dear Dad. ♥️

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