Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Gift of Music

I originally posted this over four years ago.  Dad has been on my mind for the past few days.  May his recovery be speedy and complete.  And may we all sing again soon.


Sunday, September 17, 2006

Growing Up and The Best Christmas Gift

For my father's Christmas present a few years ago, he was 70, I gave him a homemade gift. I compiled a notebook of songs, with guitar chords. For the cover, I made a collage of photos taken at the family reunion four months earlier. I slipped into the front of the song book two things. A CD I recorded with my two children of my father's favorite songs, and a "poem" which I hoped would convey my appreciation for the gift of music my father had given us growing up.

On Christmas Day, when Dad called, he was choking back tears. He loved the present and was happy I had understood what he had tried to give us all those years.

I thought I'd share the poem and the collage, as I think the idea is an inexpensive gift of love, that others might find just the right type of thing for that PERFECT CHRISTMAS PRESENT.

Songs of Our Youth

Songs were sung in the dark -- children sang with freedom
Encouraged by their father -- For whom music defined life
I recall those years in my brothers’ room
The door closed, the lights off, the shades drawn
Six children and Dad sitting on four beds
Dad leading us in song.

Song was how we passed the time on long car trips
Song was how we shared our love with grandparents, who were dying.
Singing together was attractive
To other children, not blessed with our family love of music
Audiences formed out of nowhere when we sang together
Children eased up to join us– eager to feel part of the song.

What we learned as children has served us in our adult lives well
We are not afraid to sing out -- eager to listen to others’ song
We choose to harmonize with those willing to sing along
Our children have heard our songs --They have learned the tunes we’ve taught them
They have added harmonies of their own -- And they have added songs to our collection.

On a cool summer night in Pennsylvania
We all gathered around a roaring campfire
Dad, two of his brothers, the five surviving children, the youngest brother, not part of the original mix, our nine children and husbands and wives and friends
Three of us had guitars; all of us had eager voices
And we sang.

We sang the old songs, learned in the dark
We sang some new songs, acquired along the way
We laughed as we sang verses out of order
Or when the chords we struck were in discord with the voices.
The children displayed the freedom of youth, as they danced in the light of the fire.
Those of us with some age enjoyed their enthusiasm, as we sang the songs of our youth.

Family Reunion August, 2004


Sharon said...

That was really nice Judy, I wish we had been a musical family, genetics simply did not permit it though.

I hope your Dad will be well soon.


mixednut555 said...

Thank you for sharing that again, Judy. It was beautiful and brought tears to my eyes. How fortunate your family was to have that music. My parents didn't sing or play instruments but they made sure each of us five kids took music lessons. I haven't played anything in a long time but Rachel and I and U'i are all going to take up lessons. U'i wants to play violin, which is cool as both Rachel and I played violin. Rach and I also played cello and Rachel played upright bass and bass guitar as well. I can't carry a tune but lucky for me Rach and U'i both have beautiful voices and are blessed with being able to carry tunes! Rachel could whistle before she could talk, I'm talking whistle tunes, how cool is that? I always know all is right in her world when I hear her whistling. Anyway, I don't know what is up with your Dad, but I'm sending prayers and good energy that direction.

Gorges Smythe said...

What a wonderful tribute to a still living and loving father. My immediate family wasn't musical (see my post this past spring called "Why I Don't Sing in Church"), but my maternal grandfather taught himself to play the piano after he turned 65! God bless you.

Judy's Corner said...

Thanks Sharon. He came home from the hospital yesterday and will continue to recovery there.

Judy's Corner said...

Thanks Kat. I find it interesting that you all played the violin, as that was my first "official" instrument. One of the most cherished experiences of my youth is that of going every Saturday into Washington, DC with Dad where we made violins, violas, cellos, viol d'amore and guitars, under the tutelage of Willis M. Gault. I played violin every day of my life from 9 years old until I broke my elbow 20. After that, I was never able to get above the 3rd position, and playing violin took back seat to playing guitar, which I still do today.

Dad had a stroke on Wednesday. He was released from the hospital yesterday and will continue to improve and recover fully (I hope) at home.

I love the story of Rachel whistling...

Judy's Corner said...

Gorges, I'll be reading the post you reference later this evening. That is amazing that your Grandmother taught herself to play at age 65.


mixednut555 said...

Will be praying for your Dad's complete recovery from the stroke. I'm sorry to hear about that, it sounds promising that he is home already. My grandfather had a massive stroke when he was 48, he lived to be 88, always walked with a limp but he walked miles every day up and down the hills of San Francisco where he lived. Anyway, just want you to know we are thinking of you and wishing you and the family the best.