Monday, December 26, 2005

One Little Moment More

I hope you all are enjoying a warm and meaningful holiday season. I am learning with each year that all the cookies and Christmas music in the world won't stop normal, everyday life from happening, even though these little rituals of mine still hold something precious for me.

One huge piece of my heart at Christmas is filled with memories of my mother and father indulging in traditions or activities that had the greatest impact on me. My father has been dead for many, many years, but I still remember sitting around the dining room with my family listening to all kinds of music while he would spin out a tale or encourage a debate over one thing or another. I remember going out with him into the grove of neatly-planted pine trees that someone in our home's past had the foresight to plant, and picking and cutting down the tree for the year. I loved how it smelled, and the excitement of mounting it into the stand on the platform. We had steam radiators so it rarely got too dry -- a good thing for an old brick house built by Quakers in 1825.

Memories of my mother were different; when we lost our father, everything changed and it was all on her. She bore that particular mantle with mixed reviews, but she bore it out of love and determination that her children, in particular her daughters (my brothers had all grown and moved out by the time Dad died), would be well taken care of and would have the capacity to succeed. My sister has certainly reached this but the jury is still out on yours truly.

Mostly I remember the long, long hours I spent with my mother in her kitchen. Once we moved down and out from the country and into town, her Victorian home was the heart of our family's every major event as well as all the little ones in between. We would "waste" entire evenings sitting in the kitchen and dissecting life while we knew we had a ton of preparation for some big family gathering the next day. In later years, when she was unable to do as much, we all got a kick out of how she still managed our every move, from getting the pineapple tarts out of the pan to stirring the chile con queso. And, once we had children: "Don't you think he needs a little milk with that?" Or, even to my adult friends: "How about a little milk with that?"

Both my parents died as we were entering the holidays. Maybe the gusto with which they celebrated is the reason I take the holiday preparation and all the trimmings so seriously, and typically undertake the baking, gift wrapping, and magical role of Santa with such enthusiasm. But over the years I have come to realize that what really matters is the time we spend together enjoying it all, that the reason my mother worked so hard was so that those moments were that much richer, merrier, and more magical.

The time we have here is indeed magical, temporary, wondrous. Christmas is just a good reason to remind ourselves of this, but really we need to keep that in mind daily, so that every interaction, every moment, holds some meaning. Yes, that's nearly impossible, but living with intention is the best gift we can give to ourselves and to the people we love.

A few weeks ago, my former mother-in-law was discovered to have an aggressive form of lung cancer. While none of us were all that surprised that it was there, the rapidity at which her condition has worsened was an unexpected portal to the holidays for my former husband, his brother and sister, and their father. My parents both died suddenly, the gift being that we did not have to watch them suffer and deteriorate. Despite that being the case with my ex's family, the gift within this situation is the time to have with her just one more memory shared, one more game of Euchre, one more moment.

As I cleaned up my house yesterday and got dinner ready for my ex and our kids, I listened to a wonderful cd made for me as a Christmas present. The last song is one I want to share with you. It was written by and is performed by Gillian Welch, who is one of the most important women in bluegrass music, and one of my favorite performers (with her partner, David Rawlings) of all time. I love this song; contained within its simple lyric is a quiet ferocity for living, for exhausting every joy, every chance at loving, and for leaving no song unwritten and unsung. This ferocity for life and for welcoming what it brings to us, and finding a place in our lives for every good and bad moment, is the most important gift my parents gave to me. I wish I could pass it on to you, but for now, this song will have to do.

One Little Song
Gillian Welch
(from, appropriately enough, her album, Soul Journey)

There’s gotta be a song left to sing
Cause everybody can’t of thought of everything
One little song that ain’t been sung
One little rag that ain’t been wrung out completely yet
Gotta a little left

One little drop of fallin rain
One little chance to try again
One little bird that makes it every now and then
One little piece of endless sky
One little taste of cherry pie
One little week in paradise and I start thinkin’

There’s gotta be a song left to sing
Cause everybody can’t of thought of everything
One little note that ain’t been used
One little word ain’t been abused a thousand times
In a thousand rhymes

One little drop of fallin' rain
One little chance to try again
One little bird that makes it every now and then
One little piece of endless sky
One little taste of cherry pie
One little week in paradise and I start thinkin’

Gotta be a song left to sing
Cause everybody can’t of thought of everything
One little song that ain’t been sung
One little rag that ain’t been wrung out completely yet
Till there’s nothing left

6 Comments:

At December 28, 2005 10:01 AM, Blogger scarlett said...

Honey,
I know exactly what you mean. I live in soutwest virginia and my mother is a large bluegrass fan, my boyfriend and myself and large bluegrass fans and well, practically my whole family are large bluegrass fans. My mother has even gotten my home town to start up a monthly event of Bluegrass in the Park, using the town park to give a concert of local bluegrass talent. It went well all last year and this year she received a grant to even get a bluegrass grammy nominated group to show up this August coming. She is excited as is my boyfriend and I. Bluegrass runs deep in the hills of the country and country folk we are. There is even a nationally renound dulcimer player and his wife that has moved to the county because they tracked the roots of the dulcimer to the area. Bluegrass is taking over the county and I am proud of it. Ralph Stanly lives not far from where I am currently residing and was proud to finally be able to go to one of his summer concerts where Rhonda Vincent was there. Even there was big stars such as Ralph and Rhonda, there were many local talent that were there singing the long lived songs that were sung on the porches of the wood shacks of homes of the hills of the Appalachain mountains.

God Bless and keep listening
Scarlett

 
At December 28, 2005 12:01 PM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

Hey Scarlett!

How wonderful to hear from somebody living in the heart of bluegrass country!!! You're the reason I do this! I hope you'll stop by often and share the goings-on -- with Dr. Stanley stomping around in your neck of the woods, it must be quite a place! I envy you and the rich mountain wonder you're surrounded with every day. Hope to see you again!

 
At December 29, 2005 4:12 PM, Blogger scarlett said...

Hello Mando Mama,
I'll be stopping by as often as I can. I've added your blog to my blogroll. I don't really know how much traffic I get, But I think that your site is well worth adding and taking notice of. Please feel free to visit my blog at "http://scarlettkeepsgrowing.blogspot.com"/>Scarlett Ivy Continues to Grow

See you around.
Scarlett

 
At December 29, 2005 4:14 PM, Blogger scarlett said...

ok... so, my html is just a liitttttttle bit rusty... LOL.

sorry about that.

scarlett

 
At December 29, 2005 7:07 PM, Blogger Miladysa said...

A truly beautiful and moving post!

Is there anywhere online that we can listen to the music?

 
At January 10, 2006 8:03 PM, Blogger scarlett said...

http://www.audieblaylock.com/ try this link. My mother has them coming to her Bluegrass in the Park in Jonesville VA in August '06. I cannot wait!!! I'll find some more links from her as soon as I can find all the e-mails that she has sent me. Or as soon as she gets the web site up and runnin'.

 

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