I have been playing music in some form or fashion since I was a kid. I grew up in Kentucky and have listened to Bluegrass most my life, but never got around to playing it seriously. Once I quit playing hard rock, I dropped my pick and played with my fingers 90% of the time. Finally, I got around to pursuing Bluegrass. I have been fortunate to have been learning Bluegrass from Ben since last summer. At times, I feel kind of silly spending hours a day working on it. I am not going to be a professional musician. I don’t really enjoy “performing” that much, but I do love playing with others and I love playing. I have been giving group lessons to help beginner and intermediates get on their way. But still, it seemed like I could perhaps be better spending my time.
At the end of February, my Mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer. My parents live in Tennessee and I live in Texas, so I couldn’t be there all the time. When I wasn’t there, I started recording songs and sending them to my parents. My tendency is to nit-pick every little thing and try to get recordings perfect, but now, I was up against the clock. I just got the songs recorded quickly and sent them on their way. My parents couldn’t care less that the playing and recordings weren’t perfect. They still enjoyed them greatly.
I hadn’t written music for years, but after my first trip to see Mom after the diagnosis I was sitting in Nashville’s airport with 3 hours to kill while waiting after a missed flight and I felt compelled. In my usual fashion, I tinkered with it for days, but it wasn’t near being done, so I didn’t record it. Fast forward to 2 weeks ago, Mom started to have paralysis and seemed to be heading downhill. The flights were full until the next day, so I recorded the song I wrote and sent it to my parents. Mom did not get the email, but a few days later I got to sing it for her in person. It was an imperfect song played and sung in an imperfect way, but it was the most important song of my life. I recall seeing my Mom cry only three times, and when I finished the song was one of the three. As the disease progressed, her ability to move and communicate went away. But to whatever extent she could express it at a given moment, she let me know that she loved for me to play for her. So I played.
Mom was a very private person and she didn’t want a funeral. We had planned for a celebration of life party to be held last Saturday (April 28th). It would allow Mom to spend some time with family and friends. She was quite excited about the party. Unfortunately, things progressed much quicker than anticipated and she didn’t make it. Mom passed away last week, but we decided to have the party anyway. She had asked me to play for the party, and of course I did. It was a beautiful day, and even though she wasn’t physically there I think Mom was probably enjoying it somehow.
I am 43 years old, so hopefully I have many more things to accomplish. But as I look back at my life, music has been part of some of the most meaningful relationships and events of my life. I have made lifelong friends through music. I have played for friend’s weddings and funerals, I help people worship through music. But music was never more personally meaningful than for what it allowed me to do with my Mother in her final days. When I didn’t have the words to describe how much she meant to me, music helped get me closer to being able to do so. So in case you (like me) were wondering if all the time we spend on music is worth it, I wanted to you to know that it most certainly can be.
If you have any stories to describe how music has made a difference in your life, I encourage you to share them in this forum.