I have the MOST serendipitous moments happen to me. I was driving my little car, top down, playing Manhattan Transfer’s song Operator (look it up) and got stopped at the stop light from hell in Southaven. (a three minute wait, every single time.) A car filled with teenage boys pulled up next to me. they had their windows down. When they got even, they all started singing along with the song. I was surprised 1. that they knew the song, and 2. that they had such great harmony. As the song ended the boy in the back seat leaned out and yelled, “call me!” I laughed and said, Honey, you just want me for my car! He fell over laughing and said, Dang, you got me! The light changed and they turned left while I went on my way. I LOVE MY CAR! I also LOVE MY MUSIC! Nothing like having worries taken away when I cruise in my lovely Posh!
I am one of the odd ducks that happens to be fully ambidextrous and, according to all the tests I took in college, I have a brain that is exactly balanced between the right and left sides of the brain. What this means, actually, is I spend more time figuring out which hand to use to do what task, and I argue with myself on almost every single issue.
Emotions in public embarrass me, so that makes logic a good choice, except emotional people think I am cold and unfeeling because I give a logical response. If others get emotional, with good reason, I have empathy for them, but I probably won’t join them in a crying jag, hysteria, or temper tantrum. On the other hand, or side, I get hurt and angry, and I am capable of having a tantrum, I just usually turn to sarcasm, facts, and downright snobby rhetoric to let others know how upset I am.
The biggest battle I face with myself, is admitting that I am such a softie when it comes to anything to do with children, my family, my country, my religion. I can be brought to tears just hearing the National Anthem, and nothing gets to me like seeing a flag flying against the sky. Only years of self control has kept me from breaking out singing God Bless America at a flag raising. See, Embarrassing.
I love my family. I have the most wonderful children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and all the steps and add on family that comes with them. I have a husband of 45 years who has grown old with me that I love in more ways than I can say. I am deeply proud of all of them, even the one that has gone on before us brings me pride and joy. I admit, blushing, that when I see them do something that brings them joy, I have to fight tearing up. After all, they don’t want to see an old, weepy lady sobbing all over them. So I have learned to suck up the tears and smile with pride, and enjoy their achievements. Holding a grandchild for the first time is magical, sacred, and fulfilling in a way only a parent can understand. It is a continuation of all that we are. But, I never cry, nor do I laugh out loud, the logic side keeps me under control enough to be excited, but calm. None of that means I don’t feel emotion, I am just more comfortable with keeping it close and personal.
Music brings me to deep emotions, especially music that speaks to my religious being. My country and all that it was founded on is as much a part of me as my name. That patriotic belief comes from my ancestors who both founded the United States, and those that were here to meet the ships as they came in.
So, as I sit here with my fifty-fifty brain, we are once again embarking on Christmas and all it means to me. I secretly LOVE Christmas. I start planning gifts and decorations in mid-summer, and can hardly wait until Thanksgiving is over to begin my Christmas plans. I love the bright lights, glittery decorations, brightly wrapped packages, Christmas trees, baking, and all that goes into it the family traditions that our melded family celebrates. It makes me HAPPY!
On the emotional side, I love the deeply religious meaning of this time of year. The sacred music, the beautiful story of the birth of Christ, the amazing story of Mary, mother of the Savior, and the abiding love of Joseph for both of them makes me feel filled with love and understanding for all other mothers and fathers. Though our struggles may be different, we, as parents, have same love for our children.
This is the one time of the year I tell my logical side to zip it and take a holiday. Oh, I allow it control when it comes to things like planning how much I need of what to get things done, and I allow it free reign with finding the best deals for gifts, but otherwise, it stays out of things. This is the time of year I can cry, laugh, and rejoice without feeling embarrassed, or out of control.
Yep, being one of those few that struggle with an ambidextrous brain and body, is not easy. But come Christmas time, only one side is in control. God Bless You One and All, may your dreams come true, and may you rejoice in all the love of Christmas and all it means.
It was a typical winters evening in Nottingham. The streets were glistening with rain, the air was cold and damp, and the walk up the hill to catch the bus seemed extraordinarily long since I had stayed late doing my daily shopping in the City Centre.
As I trudged slowly along, my ears caught the sound of someone playing old tunes on a piano. I glanced up and saw, through a large window, an elderly gentleman playing on an old upright piano in what seemed to be a recreation room in a pensioner’s home for the elderly. The walls were industrial gray green, the floors cracked brown linoleum, and the furniture the dismal Formica and plastic found in many such places.
As I stood listening to the piano player, he began to play a waltz. Suddenly, out of the shadowed corner of the room, a couple began the long sweeping steps of an old-fashioned ball-room waltz. The man was stooped with age, and the tiny, white haired woman seemed fragile in his arms. As the danced, they gazed into one another’s eyes with winsome smiles. They moved in perfect harmony, born, no doubt, of many years of dancing together.
The cold, wet evening seemed to disappear as I gazed at the dancing couple and in my mind’s eye, they were no longer elderly, but, instead, I saw a young, tall pilot in his RAF uniform dancing with a beautiful, dark haired girl with smiling eyes. A couple, obviously, in the first steps of love and passion waltzing in a crowded ballroom lit by crystal chandeliers and candle light. As he held her close in his arms, they began the steps that would lead them into a life together. One filled with love, pain, worry, and joy. As the waltz ended, he softly kissed her temple and swore he loved her.
The strains of the old piano faded and I was abruptly brought back to that rainy winter night, and the elderly couple stood in the middle of the floor as he softly kissed her temple. Hand in hand they slowly turned and walked back into the shadows of the room. The street was unexpectedly quiet without the music and the wind rushed around the corners of the buildings bringing freezing rain, but I felt warm in the glow of the light spilling from the window of the pensioner’s home and the small slice of life I had just witnessed in a waltz between a man and a woman who would love each other for eternity.
At the little stone church on a dusty country road, cars and trucks park in a row in the evening sun. The people stream into the building, dropping off homemade snacks while the aroma of coffee begins to fill room.
It is obvious that the people are long time friends as they greet one another. Slowly the stage fills with amplifiers, guitars, fiddles, mandolins, and a smiling man settles himself to play the piano. The men pick up their instruments, the audience quietly chatters, and with a downbeat the band begins to play.
This isn’t your ordinary band. The youngest member is in his early twenties, but the oldest is nearing eighty. The music is pure country and gospel – American style. They have hundreds of years of combined talent and ability between them, and it shows. There is no set pattern to the songs they play. In turn the singers, young and old alike, stand to sing songs that have been part of American music for generations. Sad songs, gospel songs filled with hope, and songs that create memories of days gone past. The band catches the downbeat and simply needs to know what key the singer wants to sing. Then they bring the music alive.
White heads nod in time to the music, worn hands clap out the beat, and faces smile in recognition of the talent of the musicians and singers. The younger faces in the crowded room smile and listen intently to the words of each song, knowing they were learning at the feet of masters.
As I sit and listen, I am transported back to the days of my childhood when I would listen to these same songs on the radio. Suddenly, my eyes fill with tears of nostalgia and the yearning for days that are long past.
I can’t help but wonder where the good in the world has gone. In the rush of getting ahead, making progress, and living large, the world has lost touch with the simple joys of life. Singing on the front porch with a guitar and mandolin, sitting around the kitchen table laughing at old stories, walking out into the sunset to enjoy the beauty, all seem to be lost in the hurry of life. Where are all our simple joys? What has happened to our traditions?
For the time being, they are alive and well in the small stone church on a dusty country road in Oklahoma. As the sunsets to the rhythm of country music, the world seems to stand still just to listen, with pure joy, to the melody.