Her K I S S

Yesterday, I was reminded of an acronym  (KISS) Keep It Simple Stupid, and was pierced by the challenge.

I received such a lingering “kiss” as the life of a 93-year-old woman was celebrated on Saturday by her family and friends.  A woman who passed on and away.  She passed on her stories from her momma and her mamma’s momma.  She passed away with her son by her side and her cat curled up at her feet.

She played the piano with a keen ear and loving hands.  The same ear that heard the unspoken desires of her family and the hands that moved to fulfill them.

Her marked up bible was given to her grandson and her faith, like her music was given to those who had ears to hear.

I recall that in her son’s home, there is a little book with the words to the song, “Simple Gifts“.  I  hear the unspoken wisdom of his mother in the lyrics and the melody.

Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free’

Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,

And when we find ourselves in the place just right,

‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gain’d

To bow and to bend we shan’t be asham’d,

To turn, turn will be our delight,

Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.

I lost and found Ella

The musical chamber of my heart was aching for a melody which was drifting  around somewhere in my mind space.  At first, a little persistent tune humming its way through.  Then a few melodic phrases; “silver buttons all down her back, to see the elephant jump the fence, she jumped so high she touched the sky.”  Finally, Miss Mary Mack, all dressed in black came streaming from my mouth while the rest of me folded clothes and did numerous chore things.

The voice I tried to imitate when I warbled belonged to a wonderful children’s folk singer from Chicago whose name, for the life of me, I could not recall.  I was however, able to  instantly remember every word to every song from her album which played over and over on the plastic record player when my children were young.  As grandmothers often do, I obsessed over making sure that my grandchildren know this woman and her uniquely warm, giggly, fun, beautiful, interactive, music.

Google and I found her – Ella Jenkins!  Need I say how thrilled I am?  I even found a few YouTube videos of this grand lady, her Website, Facebook page and a picture of the beloved album cover along with how to order the CD on Amazon.com.  It’s times like these that I really love technology.  Guess what my grandchildren are getting for Christmas?

In Love, Broke and Bruce Hornsby

The song, keenly appropriate for two love struck kids with two college loans, one maxed out credit card and one minimum wage job between them. The chorus, “Even though we aint got money, I’m so in love with you honey.” The band, a local group of high school friends from my home town.  The boy on the keyboard in the background, a future rock star.

Ask anyone from Williamsburg, Virginia who the local celebrity is and you will certainly hear, Bruce Hornsby. He is one of a gaggle of Hornsby guys who play at life and play with music and draw in friends who play with them. Bruce has taken the fruit of his legacy, and has made recordings, won a Grammy and performed around the world with every who’s who artist in the business.

On November 10th, Pepper and I celebrate our anniversary and admittedly, I post this picture as evidence to all the folks who may have doubted my claim to have had Bruce Hornsby perform at our wedding, but I’d also like to add him to my play-grand for a loftier purpose and that is to give you a mini-glimpse of his personality.

I have lost contact with many of my old friends since leaving Williamsburg but Bruce made an effort to stay in touch. He came to our home in Milwaukee for a visit while on tour and graciously made wonderful music with our daughter on a badly tuned piano. I am told that he often called on transplanted Williamsburg folks around the country, especially in his early years on the road. I saw him a while back in an airport and he introduced me to his wife and sons with the charm and ease of an old friend and he came by my mom’s house after my Dad’s funeral bringing some much-needed levity by showing us all his signed Jerry Garcia tie.

I am sure that Bruce’s days are filled with family outings, social events, numerous requests and all the glamorous and not so glamorous things that famous people do, which make the few times I’ve seen him over the years even more impressive. It seems to me that notoriety hasn’t changed him all that much. Perhaps the values of a close family, the influence and love of friends and the perspective from being raised and embraced by small caring town help him keep his head on straight, his feet on the ground and his music in the air.

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