Saturday, August 31, 2013


While packing up our things from an uncommon respite in the middle of one of our Blest Art church assignments, we listened to Glenn Miller on Pandora. Big band music makes me smile and move a little faster - but not in any kind of frenetic way – kind of like moving with real life, I guess you could say. Eventually, “I’ve Got a Girl from Kalamazoo” filled the Campus Center at Baker University, where we had enjoyed three quiet, uninterrupted hours.

So K-K-K-K moved me around the place as I gathered books and bottles till the inevitable thought broke through: I miss you, Dad. How many times did I hear that song as a kid? Or watched you and Mom dance to it? Countless. My eyes brimmed, and I no longer moved to the rhythm of the music.

And then I paused. Because I thought of Mom. As tears slipped out, I felt a teensy bit of her pain when she hears the tunes from times past. I recalled when those tunes were associated with some of the most fun and easygoing days of their relationship.

In their early 30s I was old enough to observe some of those light-hearted days. We lived in a safe, new Philadelphia suburb. All the families were young. No fences separated properties. Like all young couples in any era, they enjoyed frequent get-togethers as they built what became a very strong neighborhood community.

In winter months, they’d gather at someone’s home. They’d connect intercoms – precursors to baby monitors – from house to house so they could listen in on their sleeping children. When they got together at our house, I would sneak to the top of the steps and listen to their laughing silliness. I’d imagine what their dancing looked like, which I heard but couldn’t quite see from my lookout. And I absolutely loved that they had fun with their friends.

In summer, Dad would lug his huge hi-fi system to the backyard and blast it while they gathered at someone else’s backyard. They’d tell jokes and funny stories and laugh and laugh and laugh. They shared new recipes and even some strange edibles like chocolate covered ants and fried frog legs on occasion. And they’d all dance. Could they ever dance! Truth is, my parents had won many jitterbug contests before I was born. The kids would be playing out of doors, staying within the boundaries of the houses on our block and those behind our house. We played flashlight tag, and hide ‘n’ seek, and we’d catch lightning bugs. Everyone left doors unlocked and anyone could come and go into anyone else’s house.

It was a let-your-hair-hang-loose age. It was still the carefree post-war period before the recession of the 60s when life got very serious.

I miss those days. But I know Mom misses them more. I know when she hears that music now it reminds her of who and what she’s missing – a memory of two that is now only one. I pray she will one day find real comfort and pure joy in the memories. I know she will because she’s not alone on this journey. I love you, Mom.

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