Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mama & Jesse Taylor

Gratitude Year 4-Day 128: Today, I am grateful that Mama & I have a lifetime of shared music. 

Mother Ina Mae never believed children too young to learn. Her favorite pupils were 2 & 3 years old at church. Her music students were as dear to her heart as her own children. She was gifted on the accordion and translated that to piano, organ and my beloved nemesis...the guitar (I love it - but can't seem to commit to learning it- it hurts my fingers) She began teaching me to play piano at age 4. 

Mama and I shared our Mother's Day celebration yesterday. For her - it was a surprise visit and it turned out to such a great time for both of us. We had no set schedule and no agenda. No event to attend, just some mother-daughter time. 

She cracks me up when she is out around Clifton. Her people know her. We ventured to the Dairy Queen. It takes her a little extra time to decide on what she wants these days, but...when she knows, she knows. Of course, it wasn't on the menu. 

I ask if she has decided. She declares..."I'll have an old fashioned soda...with chocolate."

I had no idea what she is talking about, but it was her day and I figured worst case scenario, she would have to choose something else.  I don't know why I worried for even a minute.  The young girl behind the counter took her order and even asked, "With the chocolate? Right?" as if they knew her...and they likely did. Then, they proceeded to give her two cherries on her whipped cream.  For my mother...the cherries are the best part. She was delighted with every bite.

I was reminded of the sweet rhythm of life in a small town. Everyone knows your name. They know what you order at the local diner. They know how to make an "old fashioned soda" that isn't on the menu. They call you by name. They greet you with genuine smiles. You can't drink coffee as you drive because you need one hand on the wheel and the other one free to wave at everyone...yes, meet on the one lane country road.

Small towns have a constant  a heartbeat. It infuses life into the residents, from birth to their senior years. It is nearly musical. The melody forms through relationships...and there are all varieties from stormy and sad to sweet and tender. The lyrics are the life stories. The residents know their neighbors stories and in that knowledge grows understanding, patience and grace is extended. So many stories...some are wild and much that as my brother always says..."you couldn't make this stuff up". 

After our DQ visit, I asked Mama if she wanted me to play the piano. She thought it was a great way to spend sometime. She could always play anything by ear, I prefer the safety of written music. We didn't have any music books available, but I do have some things memorized. I asked her what she wanted to hear. She replied, "Jesse Taylor".My initial response was a blank look. 

Then, it came back to me in bits and pieces. I said "Really, Mom?  I am sure I have not even thought of that song in more than 30 years." 

But, because music is soul connected... and perhaps an angel whispered the tune, the chords and the words...we reached inward and found it. The Oak Ridge Boys and Tanya Tucker both sang it. Dad loved it...and that meant Mom loved it, too. It was the song of a life changed by Jesus. 

The Baptism of Jesse Taylor

Among the local taverns there'll be a slack in business
'Cause Jesse's drinking came before the groceries and the rent
Among the local women there'll be a lot less cheatin'
'Cause Jesse won't be steppin' out again

They baptized Jesse Taylor in Cedar Creek last Sunday
Jesus gained a soul and Satan lost a good right arm
They all cried 'Hallelujah' when Jesse's head went under
'Cause this time he went under for the Lord

"Jesse Taylor" led to other nearly forgotten songs and other music related memories. She talked about our days of entertaining in local nursing homes as public relations group for Jaffe Drug stores (my grandpa drove "the pill wagon" for Jaffe's) on Sunday afternoons. Music is such a great tool to open up the mind and the heart. We even chatted with the mother of one of her former music students. Mama called it a concert. I called it fun. 

I am reminded that in Nehemiah 12:46 that music helps us offer praise and thanksgiving to God.
"For long ago in the days of David and Asaph there were directors of the singers, and there were songs of praise and thanksgiving to God"

Music matters. It is not just an weaves it's way into our souls. It lifts our spirits and can soothe our sorrows. I am grateful for music and the "music" of a small town. I am full of wonder at the music buried deep in our memories. I am thankful long-term memories seem to be protected when the short term ones fail so easily. 

Today, I am grateful that Mama & I have a lifetime of shared music...and the chance to revisit our old friend "Jesse Taylor". 

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