Life is fragile and moves swift…this little girl just got a swift kick. Stop stalling and backing up, hurry up hurry up! It’s not a lot, but it’s a little; a trade mark and just a fiddle…in between the lines is what counts. The truth will eventually come out. Keep on keepin on.
A man died this weekend. A strong man who lived a full life. I had been spending time with his wife, who is in the first stages of dementia…his body finally gave out on him. The medical community said he should have died 20 years ago…tough cookie huh? The same night he passed away, I had made plans to meet three new jazz musicians. I received the information that he had taken a turn and thought I would not make it to the show, as my heart was no longer in it…he was 81 years old and of course, I could think of nothing else but his wife, whom I had spent some time with. I grew to enjoy her quick wit and spunk, despite her lack of short-term memory. Some days she couldn’t remember much at all, but could she ever sing…I wondered how she was, now that the love of her life had finally let his eyes close. I was at her home in an instant. I raced to her, tossing my jacket out of the way so that my velcro wouldn’t scratch her thinning skin. She looked at me and quivered a smile. We embraced. Time passed. I tried to help by offering water and running little errands of anticipation, like tissues or a pillow for an aching back. Then the family heard I was supposed to sing that night at a local lounge and was going to meet new musicians. They were very gracious, thanked me for coming and even said I was so sweet an thoughtful, but didn’t want me to miss my performance. I didn’t want to leave at first, but after seeing there was little left I could do, I knew it was time to go. After some stalling and checking back in with my elderly friend, I gave hugs and left. Kind of in a daze from seeing their pain, but knowing I had done everything I could do, I got in the car and moved on. Knowing when someone is ill who eventually passes, doesn’t make all the pain disappear and it’s still not a joy to walk through in that moment. This man had help start the local jazz music festival because he wanted to keep jazz music alive, bring the youth and veteran jazz players together and leave a positive community experience. He loved jazz. He had a beautiful upright bass propped by his bed at all times. He was a clock maker and the longest running Mayor our city had and has ever had since. He helped get college funds to kids in need and served on the local college university board. He worked hard for everything he ever had and worked even harder to provide doors of opportunity to others…and his wife absolutely adored him. She would rave about how he loved to fly planes and what a brilliant swing dancer he was, when they both could still “do that sort of thing.” She would sparkle when she spoke of him and was smitten at the very thought of him. “Sure, we disagreed sometimes, but nothing too serious.” she would say to me. Then she would show me the creative gifts they had given each other over the years and we made plans for a new one she wanted to surprise him with. She would sing this old song whenever she would speak about her husband and for some reason it poured out of me in the moments as I drove away from what was their last home together. It goes something like this, “Wise men have shown, it’s no good to be a lone. The rose needs light, day needs night, I need you, I need you…” I’d like to know what this song is…
The three musicians I got to sing with that night were wonderful, easy to work with and genuine. We had more than one magical moment in music that night together. I dedicated Etta James, “At Last” in honor of our musical friend and while I sang, I thought that maybe he was playing his bass along with us. I sang as strong as he had lived his life and with as much heart I could carry for him in honor of his wife. I hope it was felt. We’ll see what happens next, but for now, that short show was a space in time that I believe the stars glowed and our small community of neighbors remembered true love. Things changed quickly that night and so did my blog…I hope you love those around you and remember who helped get you to where you are and loved you a long the way.
Love and peace,