Friday, January 16, 2015

The Circle of Life

The Circle of Life

Isn’t it funny how life comes around full circle sometimes? When our family went to Hawaii last year, crazily, I took a suitcase with seven ukuleles in it. They were cheap little colorful ones that as it turns out don’t want to stay in tune very bad. When I passed them all out to the kids and Kerry and they were "underwhelmed" with my surprise ha.  Shelbey and I however loved it! We plunked out The Lion Sleeps Tonight and another one or two. Since I got back I still love to strum away, and sing You Are My Sunshine to Easton. When I got a gift certificate from Brendon and Melissa for Christmas, I even upgraded my little red ukulele to a little better one that holds its tune a little better.

              I didn’t really make New Years 2015 resolutions this year except as always; I vowed to take better care of myself, especially after the Bell’s palsy experience. Second, I kind of reviewed the things I found fun, because I don’t have enough fun and I heard someone say the only fun they were actually having was what they watched on TV! I thought yeah Pam…that’s you! So more fun is on my list this year! Playing the ukulele reminds me so much of my Mom. Some of my best memories of her are her playing the guitar for us as kids.


            Mom never sang or played, in front of my Dad. Therefore when he was out in the barn or fields, she would pull her guitar out from behind her blonde dresser with the mirror, and position herself so she could see the barn or grain bins… wherever he was. That way she could hurry and put it back in its secret place, if he started for the house! The guitar had been a birthday gift from her brother Julius on her seventeenth birthday. She had many brown covered raggedy “composition” books with handwritten songs in them. There was the title of the song, and singer of the song underlined beneath the title. The pages were yellow and were written in ink from one of those sharp pointed fountain pens with the ink cartridges. There were letters over the word of the song you change chords on.  She wrote the lyrics down by listening to the radio and scribbling the first and third lines the first time, and the second and fourth lines the second time she heard the song. Then in her beautiful handwriting, added it to her songbook. Many, many hours spent on her music.  She tuned her guitar by ear, and played it so much the neck of the brown guitar had white spots worn on it where her fingers had chorded over and over and over, while strumming ( that spot was worn too) with her white, thumb pick.


                    We would look through her books and choose songs. Some of my favorites were, At Mail Call Today by Gene Autry, A Soldiers Last Letter by Ernest Tubb,  Have I Told You Lately That I Love You, Don’t Pop and I’ll Be Good, I Just Don’t Give a Hoot,  The Old Rugged Cross and Down in the Valley. Many were sad songs it seemed.  I have written before about all the musical talent in the Bruhn family down the line. Many who could play instruments and sing with no formal training.

                     The other great memory of a ukulele for me is being in Palermo school, up on the stage behind the curtain with our unforgettable music teacher. Mrs. Hook was probably “seventyish” at the time. She was a little lady, white chin length hair cut straight off and held to one side with a barrette.
She was always in a hurry and you could barely get her attention to ask her anything. Always in black tights a skirt and top, she was eccentric, scatterbrained and kind of people. She was a dynamo, who took on huge projects. One of those projects she tackled was teaching a bunch of kids a few cords on the ukulele. Seems half the music session was used up tuning them. With her exuberant encouragement we finally, all proudly played Little Grass Shack! I think I could still sing it. Later that same teacher took on the musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream coat, when we were teenagers. She was so much fun, and definitely someone I never forgot.

          So this year I plan eat healthier as I always do, and find time for more ukulele, more card games, more theater, more music, more knitting,  more thrift stores, more knitting and things I really love. I encourage all of us to remember this year to make time, schedule time, to do things we enjoy. I think it makes us all healthier, happier and set good examples for those watching us as well. One day our kids will remember something they did with us like I do Mom’s guitar playing, in a full circle. Why not make it a colorful, well rounded circle?    

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