After someone dies, people are quick to offer their sympathy. Some say they’re sorry, others compliment your strength and, the particularly curious, ask what exactly happened.
But what about the person you lost? In the three years since my dad passed away, I still get condolences, which are always appreciated, but what I really want—and rarely get—are the questions about who my dad was. I want the chance to talk about him, not his death.
So, rather than just praise Gavin DeGraw for his music and his resilience—we get to that too, don’t worry—I asked for a story about his parents. His mom, Lynne, died in 2017, and his dad, John Wayne, in 2020.
“My folks were very different people,” the 45-year-old began. “My mother, though tough, was tender. And my father, though tender, was tough.”
Gavin took me back to when he was about 19, living at home in upstate New York after dropping out of college to focus on his career. “I was in my room working on a song I had written called ‘Waterfall,’” he recalled. “I caught my mother sitting at the top of the staircase, and she said, ‘I want you to know that your father and I feel what you’re doing matters.’ She gave me her vote of confidence and reminded me they weren’t a couple of idiots just saying, ‘Whatever my baby wants to do, they can do.'”