Songs Of Remembrance: 'Happy Together' More than a half million Americans have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic hit last year. Stephanie Veto remembers her father Tom Makosky and his love for his granddaughter.

Songs Of Remembrance: 'Happy Together'

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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

More than a half million people have died in the U.S. from COVID-19 since the pandemic hit last year. To remember some of those who lost their lives, NPR is sharing the music that moved them and hearing stories from their friends and families. We're calling our tribute Songs Of Remembrance. Today, we have Stephanie Veto, who remembers her father, Tom Makosky, and the incredible bond he shared with his 6-year-old granddaughter, Autumn (ph). Their song is "Happy Together" by the Turtles.

STEPHANIE VETO: My dad owned and operated his own flooring business with his cousin, my Uncle Ronnie (ph). It was called Tom's - or it is called Tom's Floor Shop, and it's been running for about 35 years now. He grew up playing in bands. He played bass in a bunch of, you know, high school bands and everything, taught himself to play. And, you know, he was a huge lover of classic rock.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE SONG, "PURPLE HAZE")

VETO: Anything that really rocked, he was into - anything with a good baseline - but, you know, the classics like Jimi Hendrix and Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Steppenwolf.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MAGIC CARPET RIDE")

STEPPENWOLF: (Singing) I like to dream - yes, yes - right between the sound machine...

VETO: My dad had the most magnetic personality ever. I mean (laughter), people loved him. And, you know, my husband, my daughter, the two dogs, the cat, every Friday after work, pack up the car and drive there for the weekend. You know, we'd be pulling up in the driveway, and before we even had the car stopped, my dad would be there getting my daughter (laughter) out of the car seat. And, you know, she'd be like (imitating child) grandpa. (In normal voice) And they were off.

You know, one of the first things she always asked him was, can we play in the garage? And so he'd empty all the vehicles out of the garage, and he'd turn the stereo on - six-disc CD player. And he got this, you know, "Turtles' Greatest Hits" CD (laughter), and he would play that whole "Greatest Hits" CD for her. And they would dance and dance to it. But when "Happy Together" came on, you know, honestly, it really put into words how he felt about her and didn't know how to articulate.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HAPPY TOGETHER")

THE TURTLES: (Singing) Imagine me and you. I do. I think about you day and night. It's only right to think about the girl you love and hold her tight. So happy together.

VETO: He would take her - he'd take her on all these just adventures. They'd go to garages and car shows. Or he knew a guy that had a pet pig, and they'd go see that. Or - that was his partner in crime, you know? He used to say, I'm going to squeeze you until you fart (laughter) to her, and she'd laugh.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HAPPY TOGETHER")

THE TURTLES: (Singing) I can't see me loving nobody but you for all my life...

VETO: How do you even describe it? Like, if their lives were, like, a movie montage - you know? - like, that song would be playing in the background while they're, like, swinging on swings and throwing rocks into ponds. Like, literally, like, it's that cliche and awesome.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HAPPY TOGETHER")

THE TURTLES: (Singing) When you're with me, baby, the skies will be blue for all my life...

VETO: You know, we'll go home a lot still. My daughter still asks if she can play in the garage. (Crying) It's lost some of its specialness, I guess, but she'll put the stereo on. And it - honestly, it doesn't make me sad to hear it. It's comforting almost. And there's a lot that I can't do or look at or listen to anymore because it's too hard, but that song is like a hug. It really is. You know, he'll always just be a memory to her, but it's a good memory for her to always have for sure.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HAPPY TOGETHER")

THE TURTLES: (Vocalizing).

CHANG: That was Stephanie Veto, remembering her father, Tom Makosky of Mayfield, Pa. He died of COVID-19 last June at the age of 66.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HAPPY TOGETHER")

THE TURTLES: (Singing) Me and you and you and me. No matter how they toss the dice, it had to be the only one...

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