In this video I am trying NOT to laugh, which I think you can tell. My very favourite part is the very end when I sing the high note and Chester the Singing Dog just stops and stares at me – clearly in awe of my musical prowess. Probably not because his ears hurt, right?
Today is the fifth of August. 3 months since half of my heart died. 90 days since I last spoke to my very best friend. A sad milestone.
These fifths surround me as I move forward, I can hear them, a progression of 12 tones, one of them for each month. Each month with its associated major and minor key. Some days I exist in harmony with his death; I understand that what has happened is a circumstance of life – people die. But other days things take a minor key; nothing seems right without my Bear. This was not how I expected my future to be.
I’m taking singing lessons.
In April, while we were crossing the Texas panhandle we were talking about fear and what fear had stopped us from doing in our lives. I confided to Warren that I wished I had taken up singing when I was younger. Singing makes me feel free – it revs me up, makes me happy! But I’ve always been reluctant to sing in front of anyone, I told him, I didn’t think my voice was very good.
‘Fear shouldn’t stop you from doing what makes you happy. Look at us. If we had let fear stop us, we would not be here’ He took my hand and held if for a few seconds while I thought about this.
He shook his head, then turned the radio off. We drove in silence for a moment, then he took a big breath and he started to sing. In his wonderful, gruff, off-key voice, he belted out – acapella – John Hiatt’s song ‘Drive South’ – one of our favourites. When he was finished, he looked at me.
I did not know what to say…
‘Are you offended by my voice?’
I shook my head, a little stunned, ‘No Bear…’
He raised his eyebrow.
‘Do you think I’d be offended by your voice?’
I stared at him – suddenly understanding what he was doing
‘Then sing. For me. I want to hear how happy you are’.
After a few moments, he nodded again, then reached for my hand and started singing too…
When he died, I couldn’t sing anymore. I just could not stand the idea of doing anything that distracted me from my grief. And when I tried to sing I usually ended up crying.
But after a few weeks I realized that I had to keep singing – for him. I needed to find that happy again. I still cry when I sing certain songs: The Dance by Garth Brooks does me in every time. But he is right – no fear should stop me from doing what makes me happy.
I miss him every single day. Every one. I can’t even imagine what my life would be like right now if I had not had him in my life. He really helped me find my bravery. And helped me to realize that life, this life, is all we have.
So I sing. I practice my Circle of Fifths and love him with every note that comes out of my mouth.
I love you my Bear….
I’m sitting in the sunshine, feeling the familiar warmth on my skin, and remembering our days in Yuma. I distract myself from the spike of sorrow by wondering what to do with the rest of today. I have washed the truck and bought dog food – all good responsible Sandy activities. I also organized the truck inside – didn’t vacuum it but wtf, it’s some progress anyway. I don’t know what it is that is pushing me today – I feel restless? No. But I want to do something. Maybe I’ll go into Fergus tonight and watch the live music at the Brew House. Or maybe not.
I feel like I’m starting to emerge from under the tsunami of grief and sadness that has consumed me for days. I miss him. I miss having his hand to hold and his warm smile and his excellent advice. But if I listen to my inner voice he’s there. He’s still with me. And as much as that makes me sad and frustrated – I want to see him! – it is also becoming a comfort. There is a tribe (which tribe? I hear him prompt me – I don’t know Warren, I can’t remember…) that says that no one is really dead until the last day that their name is spoken.
Warren Allen McLeod.
I say his name each morning when I wake up and each night as I fall asleep. No forgetting on my watch. With that in mind, knowing that he’s still here in one way or another, I feel stronger. I am starting to pick up the the notes of my life, starting to compose the sound of the each day. Never more than a day ahead though – I know now that fretting about the future, trying to compose an aria to carry me through – is futile. We only have the notes for today. Cherish whatever melody that brings you.
Today I’m composing a solo: my melody is bright and warm with an undertone of melancholy. And that’s ok. It fits me right now.
I don’t even know how to start this blog, so many things rush into my mind at the same time. Not only did we go to The Grand Ole Opry – a name that I’ve heard since I was a child, but we saw some excellent performers. Some established like Charlie Daniels and ‘Whispering’ Bill Anderson, and some new like Mark Wills or debuting like Midlands. The list of performers is here .
Jeannie Seely, who has been with the Opry since 1967, was the host for the first half of the evening and sang a few songs of her own. Her voice was still strong and her song I Don’t Need You was fantastic. She has not recorded this song yet, but if you were listening to the Opry live on air Saturday night you would have heard this – I’m hoping she records it.
The host for the second half of the set was Connie Smith – an Opry member since 1965 – and this was the second time we’d seen her this weekend. She does not look 75 and her voice was strong and clear. She introduced Bobby Osborn & The Rockytop express and they sang Rockytop which basically brought the house down – audience members were ‘Yeehaw-ing!’ and hooting and showing their Rockytop Tennessee pride – it was raucous and fantastic.
We were treated to so many good performances – Mark Wills did 3 songs of Merle Haggard’s: Silver wings, Misery & Gin, and Rambling man – and he did then extremely well and in Merle’s style – one song right after another with no break between them. It was fantastic. Merle’s music touched everyone.
But for me, and for many I believe, the main event was Charlie Daniels. At 81 I was expecting to enjoy his performance and, although I wanted to hear his signature ‘The Devil Went Down to Georgia’ , I really did not expect that he would have the energy it would take to play that song. He sang Drinkin’ my Baby Goodbye
, and then another song that I’m afraid I can’t remember, because when I was sure he was done he said ‘the next song is one that’s been good to us over the years…’ and I knew it would be The Devil Went Down to Georgia. I felt like one of those teens that screamed and cried at the Beatles ( I didn’t actually cry but I did scream) – I was so excited! And you could see the absolute delight Charlie and the Band took in performing this song. Charlie was light on his feet, quick with the bow and grinning from ear to ear when he wasn’t belting out the lyrics. I am still in awe. It was one of the best performances we’ve seen this weekend and let’s remember that Warren and I have seen quite a few awesome performers since Thursday! When Charlie finished the Devil Went Down to Georgia, he left the stage to a standing ovation – the audience was just wild. Such an great moment!
When we left the Opry we exited through those big wooden doors feeling like we’d really witnessed something special. And we had. It was amazing to be at that icon – The Grand Ole Opry, in Nashville – Music City, and see Charlie Daniels! What a weekend! Lets recap: Thursday night the Merle Haggard Tribute concert where we saw EVERYONE including Loretta Lynn, Tanya Tucker, Jamey Johnson, Alison Krauss, Willie Nelson, Keith Richards! and then Friday we run into none other than John Hiatt at the ihop! And we round out the weekend with The Grand Ole Opry and Charlie Daniels! And all of this with my sweetheart – How could this get any better??
Well, we will see! Tomorrow we head off to Memphis and Graceland!! I can’t wait!
Today was a pretty fantastic day. We were still pretty happy from the concert last night (did I mention how awesome it was? It was very awesome!) and so we headed out, as usual, to have breakfast at – where else? – the Ihop. Now, normally this isn’t such a big event, I mean, it’s breakfast right? But today it was something JUST a little different.
We got to the restaurant and waited to be seated – nothing unusual there – then while I reviewed the menu (Warren almost always gets the same thing) Warren people watched. After we ordered I realized that something had really captured Warren’s interest – he kept turning and looking at the table kitty corner to us. Then he’d look at me with this unusually excited look on his face, then look back again. I looked at the table – meh, 4 middle aged men (ok, maybe more than middle aged) waiting to order… I looked a question at him and he grinned and said ‘I’m sure that’s John Hiatt!’. Now, I’m not as big a John Hiatt fan as Warren is so couldn’t say definitively that it was or wasn’t him, but I had to admit the idea that John Hiatt would be at the Ihop on a Friday morning seemed… unlikely. ‘Are you sure?’ I asked. He grinned and said ‘yeah. The guy in blue’. I looked and was still a bit dubious. Yes, he was of the correct vintage but it just seemed like 4 old guys eating breakfast.
We then engaged in some pretty focused eavesdropping and it sure sounded like this was a music person… but he seemed quite quiet and didn’t have the big ego you might expect from an entertainer. However, when he referred to the birth of his daughter Georgia, even I was convinced.
How exciting! Of course the Squirrel in Sandy wanted to zoom over right away and introduce herself but Warren, being a person of much more self restraint suggested that we would NOT interrupt anyone while they were eating a meal with friends.
We finished our meal and with some artful delaying tactics by Sandy we managed to end up at the checkout at the same time that Mr Hiatt was paying his bill. 🙂 He was gracious and chatted for a few minutes – talked about hockey and inquired as to why we were in Nashville – and willingly posed for the picture above.
So: Best concert ever Thursday night. Breakfast with John Hiatt on Friday morning.
Life is good.