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Pathway To Heaven Song By Perry Ford



Song Written & Recorded & Copyright by Perry Lee Ford

Music Video Produced In His Loving Memory
by Dana Holyfield & Stacey Cicchiello




It wasn't the first memory of my dad, but it is one that I am very fond of. I think I must have been in first or second grade. For whatever reason I was going through a time at school when I just didn't want to be there. I can remember plotting my escape, trying to figure out how indeed I would pull it off. Anyway, after a big "dad hug" he would just...carry me words spoken, just plain old fashioned RESCUE! What a great daydream it was.

Now that I think about it, I know my dad had that same daydream of rescue. Right before he passed away this past December, while he lay in the hospital room, I'm sure that more than a hundred times he wished for that same savior. As I'm writing this, I'm starting to wonder, for him, who that might have been. His dad, his mom, or maybe it was me. The fact is, he would have welcomed anybody who could have convinced the doctors, though as sick as he was, to get him the heck out of there. Any of us would have "sprung" him if we could, and for a little while I felt guilt over not going against what doctors said, and taking him home. I don't feel that way anymore. After it was all said and done, I know without a doubt, my dad was on a journey. Although it be his last, it was in the cards to complete this journey the way he did, and most importantly to take all of us, and maybe some of you along with him.

There is so much to tell you about my dad. I have started and stopped writing this little story several times, because I get too carried away. I guess I want to pour out to you his whole life story. I wanted you to know important things like what a great carpenter he was. That he was a shrimper by trade and built just about every shrimp boat he ever used. He was a great cook too, often creating things no one else every would, like the time he fried sardines and tried to convince me they were fresh caught fish. As I remember it, I ate them, but I wasn't happy about it! See, I could go on for pages and pages with stories about him. Fact is, the most important story, is the story about his faith, and really the days leading up to his death.

Dad was born and baptized a Catholic. I don't know when, but at some point he abandoned that religion and set out on his own to find the truth in Jesus. I know this because being raised Catholic myself, lots of times I would question him on why he believed certain things and why he changed his way. His answers always made sense to me even if I was still a little unsure. Being a great story teller himself, I loved to sit and listen to why, how and what. The best I remember was when he was telling me something about the book of revelations. He seemed to know every word. As a matter of fact he seemed to know every word of the rest of the bible too. I asked him had he ever read the whole thing. His answer was yes, and when my "why" came he told me. He said when he was younger, he had many questions himself, and when he had asked "why" to whomever, I suppose many of his questions were left unanswered. It was at that point that he picked up a bible and in his words, "I just sat down under a tree and started reading." Who knows how long it took him, but when he was finished, he was finished, and for the rest of his life he lived as best he could according to what he read. He taught me, my brother and just about anyone else he came in contact with out of those words.

Now, you need to know that my dad was by no means a saint. His life, like the rest of ours was riddled with sin, mistakes, bad choices and heartbreak. The last five years I would say, at least in my eyes were the worst.

Like many people before my dad, alcohol and drugs would take over. It seemed that he had just given up. Really, on all of us, but mostly on himself. Poor health got worse, and great relationships in his life including with me were torn. At times I would get so mad at him. I got to the point when I would refuse to see him, refuse to feed the monster that had moved inside. I believed he wanted to die. I had to believe that because there could be no other explanation to why he would do the things he did. The whole family, including two granddaughters (one which he never got to meet) were simply put to the side while he stayed on his ride. I couldn't imagine how he could let himself come to this, and by the way, wasn't this against GOD and his beliefs? I told him once, that he needed to get himself "right" with Jesus and get it together. To this his reply was..."Sugar Pie, don't you worry about my relationship with the man, that's just where it needs to be and don't you forget it." Hmmm...I rolled my eyes.

I know this is starting to sound like I am very angry at my dad, and I was. Right up until the moment I got the call that he would have to face open heart surgery. The night before I left for the hospital I talked with him on the phone. In that one phone call, all was forgotten, and without the words even spoken, we were back to "right". I should have known then what was to come. That phone call, that conversation would prove to be the last time I ever heard my dad speak normal and like himself.

Suffering with many complications from diabetes the surgery was scheduled and rescheduled, until they felt somewhat sure he could make it safely through. His liver was going bad, his kidneys were going bad, and his lungs, well who knew? Dad would finally go through quadruple by-pass surgery and live to tell the most amazing, most chill producing story of his life.

In the days after the ordeal while we were waiting for him to recover he flat lined. A quick scare, but he was brought back, no one told him what had happened. I had gone home to get ready for Christmas and my Aunt and cousin were visiting him. From what I was told he seemed to come out of a fog and called them both to his side. He said he had something very important to tell them. I will never forget that when my cousin relayed this story to me over the phone how the hair on the back of my head stood on end.

"I was there, I was at God's altar. It was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. There were seven of them. Seven altars, and they were made of wood, beige wood. I have never seen wood carved this way, so beautiful."

Shortly after that, my Aunt said he asked about the "priest". He wanted to know if anyone had seen that "priest".

He said, "The priest came in my room. He said he had come to visit with me. I asked him to pray with me, and he got on his knees, he got on his knees and he cried. He gave me absolution. The priest gave me absolution and he was crying. I told him he was a good man, even if he "was" a priest."

Two things happened to me after hearing these words. First, I BELIEVED. I had never believed any other story about lights or what people say they saw in the "afterlife" but this time I KNEW it was true. It was the word "beige." I don't know why that word did it, but without a doubt beige made me almost "feel" what he was seeing. The second thing was that I knew in my heart of hearts my dad was back and he had made it...because only my dad would say something like that to a priest. Always with his humor!

Well, as you know already, my dad didn't make it. He died on December 13, 2009. The call came early that morning...and the day ended late. I accepted his death because I had to, but I didn't understand. Not at first anyway. I couldn't make sense out of why God would let him make it through such a brutal surgery only to take him anyway. It didn't take me long to figure it out though.

Basically it's like this. My dad was put on this earth to write this song. He was led and guided all of his life down a pathway to die the way he did. I understand everything now. He made the choices he made bad and good, so that he could show us through his lyrics and his stories how great and wonderful Jesus really is. He made it through that operation so he could get this family and others on the pathway to start righting wrongs, and give people a little glimpse of how beautiful what comes after truly is.

If my dad were reading this right now he would chuckle and blow it off. He would never believe that he would be someone chosen to send a message, but he was, and at the very least for me, he is.

So dad, I was told that you said... "Now is the time, it's time to get this song out there." I'm sorry you won't be here to see it, but what you started, we will finish. That is a promise. In my heart you are there and I know your words cannot help but help others.

Rest in peace "daddy-o" and thank you for all of your beautiful words. I love you.

One more thing...remember how I wondered who he imagined his rescuing savior would be... I know you?



"THE STORY ABOUT THE SONG & VIDEO" (Written by Dana Holyfield Evans)

Many years ago in a small town recording studio, Perry Ford got together with a few musician buddies to put down a few tunes. Most were country lyrics and music that he and his daddy had written about love, dirt farmers, the river, trains, barrooms, and other life experiences that many can relate to. These were songs that should have gone somewhere if only they had gotten into the right hands. That is what most say who hear them.

After a few sessions of "Solo Cantina" Perry poured a shot of Crown over ice in a glass sitting on top of a speaker. He then lit a cigarette and after a long, thoughtful exhale, he began to play a new song that no one had heard him play before. He had wrote the lyrics down on a piece of paper in 1985 titled, "The Stairway." Silence fell in the studio as everyone was amazed that the song Perry Ford chose to put on tape at that moment was a song about Jesus. Without hesitation, Skip Easterland chimed in with steel guitar. It didn't take more than a few takes to get it down and with a tweak here and there, the song was saved and copied to a few cassettes.

Perry labeled the cassettes, "Pathway." The cassettes along with many others were eventually put away in a box as life changed. The opportunity didn't arrive to put his music out there. Perhaps it just wasn't the right time back then. But, if you were a friend of Perry Ford, who might have sat a spell and talked with him, you would know why he wrote "Pathway" ad-mists his other country and western songs about love, cheating, heartache, and cab drivers. Perry's faith and knowledge of the bible ran deep. He talked with many buddies about the word, even if they had just stopped over to drink a beer or two. If the word was spoken, the conversations could go on for hours. The amazing thing was that many of these friends who Perry engaged in conversation about what was written in the bible were not Church goers. You probably would not consider many of them very Christian-like, but Perry Ford could usually get them into a deep discussion about God in Heaven they hoped would forgive them for their sins.

Years later, after many heartaches that life dished out, losing his father, then his younger brother who was murdered, his teenage son lost his leg in a boating accident, and the mothers to his children left him along the way. Perry was nearing the end of his journey here on earth. He had finally done himself in. The party was almost over. He was tired and very sick. He sent his good time buddies home and mentioned that he was tired of that way of life. He seemed to be trying to chase away the demons. Though he had lost almost everything that was important to him, he never lost his faith, knowing Jesus was still there waiting for him to find his way back.

There were many stays in the hospital, but one day while home, Perry pulled out the box and went through his music. Knowing time wasn't on his side, he wanted to put all his songs on CD to preserve them. As he dug through the assortment of masterpieces, he pulled out, "PATHWAY." A smile brightened his weary face. "I'd like to get this one out there," he said as he blew the dust off the case. We listened to it again on an ancient cassette player that we found in the closet. It is one of the most beautiful songs he had ever written. I told him that we could shoot a music video and post it on Youtube. He wasn't very familiar with Youtube because he didn't use a computer. But, he said, "Whatever it takes so people can hear it." From that moment on, we were on a mission. It was no longer about the fame and fortune, not that Perry ever really cared about that. Lord knows he had the talent that he probably could have gone places if he would have chosen a different road.

We planned to film the music video. Though he was in and out of the hospital, Perry discussed the shot list. He wanted to grow out his beard and hopefully feel a little better before we put him on camera singing the song. Unfortunately, he never got the opportunity to shoot the video. He went back to the hospital for the last time.

I asked a friend to transfer the cassette to CD. The night before the open heart surgery, I was there with my sister-in-law. Perry motioned to an empty chair in the room and said, "Who is that sitting over there in that chair?" There was no one that we could see. He then said, "They've been there most of the day. He is not so nice. But, the other one that comes is nice." I wondered if it could be an angel and a demon waging war over his soul. My sister-in-law suggested he was talking about the nurses that he complained about earlier. The next morning, Perry went through surgery and remarkably did fine. But, a short time after, things changed for the worse. We still hung on to hope he would survive it all.

After he had flatlined and came back long enough that he would tell the story, I brought his song to the hospital and played it for him on a cd player while he rested in the bed. As he listened to his song on CD, there was a look in his eyes as if he already knew he wouldn't be coming home to us. After the song ended, he said, "Now is the time to get it out there. You make sure you get "Pathway" on the radio. I hope it touches someone."

I told him to stay strong that he had to get better so we could finish the video. He then said, "I'm on my way out of here, Sugar Pie." He pointed upward. "Don't talk that way," I pleaded. He didn't seem very upset about his journey. Perhaps it was because he was given a glimps of where the pathway leads to. When I left that day, my mother and sister were there. They said that is when Perry told them about seeing the seven altars. He then said the most beautiful prayer out loud thanking the Lord for his life. Two days later he was gone.

So Stacey and I decided to finish the music video and get his song out there like he wished. Since he couldn't be here to shoot the video, Stacey suggeseted that we use pictures of his life. I dug through all my old video files and found a clip with him singing his last Christmas Eve. So we completed the video.

Everything in life happens for a reason that makes a difference in the afterlife!


Two Letters From His Daughter, Stacey Ford Cicchiello.

In November of last year, after a long stay in the hospital, my dad would find out that he would need open heart surgery. Quadruple by-pass it would turn out to be...with complications from just about every major organ I can name. The stakes were very high, and it was extremely possible that he would never even make it past the surgery.

He did make it. Two days before Thanksgiving, me along with the rest of my family would keep each other company in the hospital waiting room. Thirteen hours would pass before we would know the outcome, and when I finally laid eyes on my dad, I was scared. However, along with the fear there was an incredible sense of hope and the letter that follows was written "to my dad" the day after.

It would turn into a precursor to the letter I would write and read at his funeral...

"Dad" The Heart 11/ /09

"I knew it would happen...I was almost waiting on it. Somehow, I just figured it would be more sudden. That just one day the phone would ring and it would all be over. I had often thought about how that would feel. Would I be sad? Would I cry right away, or wait until no one could see me, or would I even care...?

This week, and more importantly, today...I have answered that question. As usual, nothing ever plays out like you imagine or worry it will. Nothing was sudden, and thank GOD it wasn't the end. Today I looked at you through different eyes. Today you were not just my dad, you were a son, a brother, a grandfather and a friend. I allowed myself the chance to think how others felt, and the end result was more comforting than I knew. I wish you could have been there. Inside all of our minds, our hearts. I wish that you could have felt the strength of the love, the prayers and even the wishes. But I suppose you could couldn't you? That's why you are you always have, and that why you will make it and come back to us. Not only as you were...but somehow better than before.

We are waiting... and I know you are going as fast as you can, but most of all, I am glad and oh so thankful that I never received that "call" and that I as well as the rest of us have been given another chance.


Perry Lee Ford

December 14, 2009

I spoke too soon didn't I...? I wish I had read that to you...I wish I would have done that too soon.

The call "did" come. This morning, right after I opened my had left me. The voice on the other end of the phone was a stranger's, but she sounded so familiar, and somewhat comforting. Apology was in her tone, as she asked for me to please let you go. What happened next is what surprised me the most. Without hesitation, I said stop, I knew somehow inside of my heart that you had already gone...and all that was holding you were MY words. So, dad, I'm letting you go because I KNOW, that you were anxious to get there. I KNOW that you could already see your way, and that even though it was hard to leave us all, what was before you was more beautiful than anything you could have ever found here.

But, before you leave...YOU must know this. For all of my life you were my hero, even when you felt like you were not. I suppose it was that little girl worship I had for my father that can never go away. At times you were bigger than life...and there was nothing you couldn't do in my mind. I would hang on to every word you said...and wait to hear your advice when sometimes I would have a question. I loved the way you laughed, and the way you could tell a story.

It is also important that you know, that even at your worst moment of sickness...I could still see you, sitting very strong...and very proud on top of your hill, the way I always did. I was able to peel away your body that was dying...and see the light that would always shine from inside. You are still my hero, and I'm sure, you always will be. I love you with the very best parts of me...and I miss you down to the very hollow parts of me. You will never go away...and your thrown will always be ready for you in my heart.

To my family... This year I will not write my Christmas poem..

Just this letter of goodbye, to a dad, a son, a grandfather, a brother, a husband, an uncle, and a friend.

We all love you very much, and we are very certain, that you are surrounded by amazing glory. I know we all should take comfort that your questions have all been answered, and that you are soaking in every last detail of the sights around you. I can feel that your heart is shinning and happy, and I wish, like I'm sure everyone else does, that you could just come back to tell the amazing tale, as only you could, of what happens after.

Love, Stacey


Perry Ford was survived by his mother, Yvonne Ford, two children; Stacey Ford Cicchiello & Harlan Ford. He has two beautiful grand-daughters, Shelby Crow and Madison Ford. A sister, Sharon Hurley. He had a younger brother, David Ford who passed away before him. Perry was married many years ago to Stacey's mother, Angie. He later shared many years with Harlan's mother, Maureen. He has many nieces and nephews who adored him. He was a good friend to many. He was extremely talented. He could build almost anything from furniture to houses. He invented many things that should have been patented such as motors that ran on water instead of gasoline. He was a commercial fisherman, a story-teller and a talented musician. We all miss him.



Dana Holyfield
& Stacey Cicchiello




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