Posts Tagged With: songs

I Missed Celebrating an Important Birthday

Photo by Joey Gannon from Pittsburgh, PA (Candles) [CC BY-SA 2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Joey Gannon from Pittsburgh, PA (Candles) [CC BY-SA 2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

I missed celebrating an Important Birthday!

Actually, I didn’t really miss it. I thought about it all that day.

I just avoided acknowledging it out loud.

Today I spent time with the birthday girl’s daughter-in-law. We talked about life with Kathy. It felt good and more than okay to say her name; the twinge I usually get when I talk about her out loud didn’t pinch quite so much. Not sure why.

Anyway, that bit of conversation knocked open a closed door. Which makes it possible to share this song that gut-punched me a year ago.

By that I mean the song spoke right to my heart, my head, my spirit.

Yeah, I’ve kept it to myself for a while now. Well, I did share it with MSH, cuz he already gets it. If no one else gets it, that’s okay.

I had decided long before birthday time that I’d share this on her day. And then I couldn’t. Didn’t. Refused to. Which, looking back, seems selfish. So I’ve included this gem by Sarah McLachlan from Toy Story 2. Listen with your ears and with your heart and you’ll get a glimpse of friendship at its most real.

The relationship Kathy and I had changed me. What a gift she was and continues to be for me. She taught me to love myself, to embrace the weird wonderfulness of me. It doesn’t get much better than what we had. What a blessing!

Happy Belated Birthday Kathy, my friend. No regrets! Love ya!

“How many slams in an old screen door? Depends how loud you shut it. How many slices in a bread? Depends how thin you cut it. How much good inside a day? Depends how good you live ’em. How much love inside a friend? Depends how much you give ’em.” ~ Shel Silverstein

“A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.” ~ Elbert Hubbard

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Categories: Friendship | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Sound of Heavenly Peace

holly ivyHave you ever wished you could talk with someone who has died? How do you picture something like that coming about? An ethereal mist with somewhat human form? A tangible person appearing from nowhere? Simply hearing a voice? How about just a feeling?

A couple of times my friend Kathy has “spoken” to me, but only in a kind of “I know what she’d say in this situation if she were here” sort of way. Like the first time I got a diet Cherry Coke from Sonic without her in the seat beside me. The thought came to me that she’d say, “Girl! Open the sunroof, crank the tunes and enjoy that diet Coke!”

Nah, I didn’t hear her voice at all. Just the memory of her in my head.

Then there’s the times I’ve had a conversation and said something really negative or pessimistic. “Kathy would get after me for saying that,” I think to myself.

By Wle2 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Wle2 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0]

Still, not what I’ve wanted, or hoped for or thought I needed. I’m pretty sure she said all she needed to say to me while she still lived and breathed. But this month I’m finding myself reliving and reviewing last December, since it was Kathy’s last month of this life. I can’t not do that.

So what does all that have to do with my Gratituesday today?

Kathy finally spoke to me, indirectly, but as directly as she could. Consider this quote before you read on: “If it weren’t for music, I would think that love is mortal.” ~Mark Helprin

Kathy’s husband woke in the middle of the night a month or so ago with the thought that “Kami needs to go to this Christmas concert I’m singing in.” He tried to ignore the thought and go back to sleep, but the it persisted. So he messaged me and then, a few weeks later, gifted me these tickets.

Saturday night MSH and I attended the concert. I tried not to have high expectations. It’s just a big two hundred and fifty member choir and an orchestra. Nothing professional. And I didn’t want to be disappointed by, I don’t know, Kathy not walking across the stage and waving hello to me or some such ridiculous incarnation like that.

And yet, life can surprise you.

The Christmas song Stille Nacht (ca. 1860) by Franz Xaver Gruber (1787–1863).

The Christmas song Stille Nacht (ca. 1860) by Franz Xaver Gruber (1787–1863).

The title of the concert? “Heavenly Peace.”

From the first note my heart opened up and tears dripped from my eyes like a faucet left on. Why? Because the music communicated peace right to the middle of me. I felt cradled and comforted by the harmonies. Oddly, the lyrics didn’t matter as much as the warmth that radiated through sound waves swirling around me.

Songs of delight and child-like frivolity also danced across my heart. A sweet preschool choir communicated the innocence and excitement of the holidays. A tonal poem of one word repeated drew a colored sound picture so exquisite.

By nosyme (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by nosyme (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0]

The final number, though, gave new meaning to the word breathtaking. Bagpipes and dancers, chimes, singers in the balconies, singers overflowing the stage, every single participant pouring their everything in to each note! I literally had to catch my breath multiple times to keep my emotions in check. The sheer joy of the Christmas season with generosity and fun, lights and song, focus and tradition, shot through my heart like lasers swooshing about the room. I felt lifted and renewed and saturated with incredible hope.

I felt Kathy communicating, “Feel that? That’s how I feel now! I feel relief and joy and freedom and incomprehensible love.”

I’m thankful today for music’s power to transcend ordinary communication. I’m grateful for musical artists who give with such abandon to their craft. I’m indebted to people who pay attention and respond promptly to nudges and thoughts and then follow through with generosity and love. I thank Kathy for getting through to me and showering down blessings from heaven. I’m overwhelmed with the joy of this Christmas season.

Thank you to any and all who had a part in this singularly magnificent Christmas gift.

musical notes

“Music… will help dissolve your perplexities and purify your character and sensibilities, and in time of care and sorrow, will keep a fountain of joy alive in you.” ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer

 

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday, Holiday, Music | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

My Big Yellow Songbook

One particular music book held a special place on the piano as I was growing up.

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I called it MY big yellow songbook. Of course, I had to share, but it felt like mine.

I loved that book.

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Mom would play the tunes on the piano while I sang along as best I could. I couldn’t pick a favorite song because each spoke to a different part of who I was or who I planned on becoming.

There were songs about visiting Grandpa’s farm, riding in an airplane, roller-skating, puppies and fluffy bunnies. These were wholesome lesson-filled songs about manners, songs of the seasons and of holidays, of family, extended family, nature, songs about things that young children love to see and do.

The train song got the most play time because we’d sing it on the way to either Grandparent’s homes when we saw a train, which seemed fairly frequent.

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Making the songs even more entertaining were accompanying illustrations of brightly colored cherub faced children with shiny cheeks. A little girl rocks her dolly, children dressed for Halloween, a grandmother with her granddaughter on her lap reading a book, two kids on a pony racing a train, a giraffe and an elephant at the zoo.

My siblings and I loved that book to shreds. We colored in it, wrote in it, traced over the notes, wrote our names. The cover came loose, pages became ragged and worn, torn, and slowly went missing.

If there was anything left of that beloved music book by time Mom and Dad’s house fire took its toll, there was nothing after that. The piano was a loss, as was all of Mom’s music books and half the house.

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Sixteen years ago a 50th Anniversary Collector’s Edition of “My Picture Book of Songs” came out and I got my hands on one. I felt I’d found buried treasure, won the lottery and hit the jackpot (sorry for the clichés) all at once. I gently turned the pages and felt a rush of nostalgia as my childhood swooped into the room and caught me up in a whirlwind of memory and delight.

Oh my!!

I had sung those songs as best as I could remember to my own children as they were growing up. With the new edition I could share the pictures with them, too. I could also share the songs I had forgotten.

I’m sure that Alene Dalton, the illustrator; Myriel Ashton, who wrote the music; and Erla Young, the lyric writer had no idea the impact their book had on so many children and families. “My Picture Book of Songs” was originally written as preschool book for children and their teachers during World War II. MA Donohue published it in 1947.

Now, 66 years later, their book is part of my two-year-old granddaughter’s life. She adores the “choo choo” song among many others. Her eyes sparkle with joy as we look at the pages and share a sweet melody, a moment of timelessness.

Likewise, my own eyes sparkle, but mine are filled with tears and laughter and wonder.

Categories: Books, Music | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Michael Row the Boat Ashore to Where Your Ears Hang Low

It’s Gratituesday! Campfire songs fill my head this time of year. I grew up in the era just before “Kumbaya” hit the sarcasm wave. I’m certain I never knew what it meant, but it sounded nice with a fire glowing on everyone’s faces and a few people throwing in harmony. Same with the “Michael Row the Boat” song.

 

Campfire

Campfire (Photo credit: JelleS)

 

When I was half-pint, then there was this young woman and her dog that wandered into campsite. We were there with a bunch of other families, so we were a pretty rowdy and varied group. This lady managed to make a pretty big impression on every one of our from what I could tell. Maybe it was her story, but I think it was her music.

 

Hiking and hitchhiking across the country, with her guitar strapped to her back, she’d join whatever group looked interesting and offered hospitality and a meal. She played sang a lyrical song and her dog looked properly mournful, then she played and sang some upbeat stuff and her dog’s ear perked up. I decided that very night I was going to hitchhike across the country with my dog and guitar and bring joy and music to people’s lives. Fortunately for my mother’s sanity I lost that dream somewhere along the road.

 

But the singing outdoors around a campfire, that never left me. It’s firmly wedged into a permanent spot next to my heart.

 

My cousins sing this really hilarious version of “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” I haven’t mastered this one yet. Gotta work on it at this year’s reunion.

 

A bunch of years ago I learned a camping song about “MILK!” of all things. Fell in love all over again with the singing thing. During part of the chorus you do some cow milking action while you sing, “Moo, moo, moo, moo.” It’s really fun, funny. Cute. Really, it is. Sorry, I guess you have to be there.

 

English: Campfire at fire ring, Canoe Island

 

That’s the thing. It doesn’t work unless you are there. Glow of the fire, smoke following beauty, a stick stirring the coals, marshmallows browning, a couple of good jokes, maybe even a scary story or two. Then the singing. Ah yes. Life is good then.

 

Campfire’s happen less and less often. Not for lack of camping, well, maybe, MSH would say we don’t camp often enough. Ninety percent of the time high fire danger restricts the building of campfires. Singing is less likely to happen without that glow to ward off critters and mosquitoes and, of course, to set the mood for a great tune or two.

 

The memories are almost enough though. There’s surely a bunch of ’em.

 

So what’s your favorite campfire song?

 

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday, Music, Outdoors | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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