By Lloyd Graff

Some things in life are unforgettable. 

By chance last night I started watching a Netflix documentary on David Foster, one of the foremost music producers in the last half-century. Unbeknownst to me, Foster has produced artists like Barbra Streisand, and groups like Chicago and Earth, Wind, and Fire. He also produced Natalie Cole’s album on which she sang the great song, Unforgettable, in a duet with her late father, Nat King Cole, singing from a tape.

Nat King Cole with daughter, Natalie Cole

This song has always been a favorite of mine, not just because it is a wonderful piece of music, but because the duet performance that Foster put together connects me in a profound way with my own father, Leonard Graff.

One of my happiest memories of my childhood was standing around the family’s piano while my sister Susan played, and I sang along with my dad and Sue. Nat King Cole was an extremely popular artist when I was growing up, and we probably sang Unforgettable together.

In later times, I would often listen to Cole’s records, tapes, and CDs. Unforgettable, and his other huge hit, Mona Lisa, were my favorites. To this day I have those two songs playing frequently on my car stereo.

Over time, Unforgettable took on more meaning for me as I joined the family business and my father and I worked so intimately together. After he died in 1997, I longed for the closeness of that father-son relationship that was reinforced almost every day in the give-and-take of making the business successful, working alongside my brother Jim.

When I hear Natalie Cole make absolutely amazing music with her dead father, who comes alive in her beautiful voice, it brings back that relationship I had with my own dad. Sure, it had its rocky moments, but we had so many beautiful, unforgettable moments of joy and magic that stream back yet today as I get the amazing opportunity to work with my own son Noah.

Natalie Cole also went into the family business, but her father died when she was young. Somehow Foster, the producer, brought the two of them together in that incredible single. Their synchrony is stunning, especially when you see an image of Nat King Cole singing the song seated at a keyboard, while Natalie is doing it live.

When a family, and even a family business, somehow finds that elusive synchrony, it provides real joy. I still feel it with my dad even though he has been gone 23 years now. And when that lyric comes through the Acura radio, “when someone so unforgettable thinks that I am unforgettable, too,” hits my ear, even today my father comes alive in my heart.

Question: Do you have any unforgettable moments with a parent that you’d like to share?


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5 thoughts on “Unforgettable

  1. Dave Bradley

    My father came home from WW2 with a severe case of PTSD that still haunts his family even long after his passing. Yes we had some memorable moments, but had a thousand more we wish we could forget.

  2. Gordon Erickson

    Once upon a time, my father was impressed by Howard Hughes. Being a Navy pilot, dad was always impressed with anyone who was working in the aviation field. His advice when I was in careers class in about 7th grade (1977 or so) was to send Howard a letter asking him what he would pursue as a career.
    Howard actually replied, but he didn’t suggest any particular career choice. However, the letterhead was from Hughes Tool and Die. I still have that letter.
    Dad’s comment was, “See, I told you he would provide the insight you needed.”
    The rest is history

  3. Marc Klecka

    My father died when I was 20. He had never been ill or missed a day of work (steelworker). While I was away visiting family in Ontario, Canada, he had a heart attack in Cleveland OH, and was hospitalized in bad condition. I immediately left for home and the hospital. Upon arriving, and seeing him lying in the hospital bed, I was speechless. Finally, knowing that we shared a passion for ice hockey, I was able to say: “Dad, the (Cleveland) Barons signed their (NHL) first round draft pick today.” He looked at me and said: “Who was it, Marc Klecka?” That was the last thing he ever said to me. I will never forget him. He was truly “Unforgettable”.

  4. Lloyd Graff

    My father dreamed of having a summer home. He finally built his dream home in Michiana Michigan. He didn’t love it but my Mom did. Hated commuting an hour plus every day he was working. Sold it after 3 years. I learned how to play golf there but was relieved when he sold it.

  5. Nancy Burrows

    I just caught up on this blog and I’m glad I did.
    My mother and I had our ups and downs in our relationship, but I realized she was a remarkable woman– and that belief has increased over time. She lived to be almost 103 and her insights and love of learning were amazing. I had thought she had attended at least a few years of high school, but she actually only went through 8th grade. Her final job was as personal & deparment secretary to Saul Bellow at the University of Chicago.
    What was really amazing though was her relationship with each of her grandchildren. Each one had a special evening in the week to call her and talk. They talked, she listened and apparently also shared stories of her life that they were more interested in listening to than I had been. She never made them feel guilty if they missed a call, but greeted them when they did with delight and welcoming words. I hope to always carry that into my relationships with my grandchildren and also to continue to work on it with my own kids. Thanks for the opportunity to reflect.
    P.S. I love that duet, as well.


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