Gratitude for Memories

“No memory is ever alone; it’s at the end of a trail of memories, a dozen trails that each have their own associations.” — Louis L’Amour

This time of year is hard for me – Thanksgiving season when everyone should be feeling gratitude and togetherness.  All I can think about is how much I miss my grandfather.

When I was growing up, my grandfather was a large part of my life.  He was my biggest fan and my biggest critic.  It is because of him that I went to law school and because of him that I excelled in high school and college.  He always encouraged me and supported me … even when my parents were convinced that I was being an idiot.

My Grandpa

My grandfather was a regular guitar player for the Louisiana Hayride.  He served in the U.S. Army as a mechanic at the Berlin Wall in East Germany.   He saw most of the continental United States. He was a church music director, a farmer, an artist, and a family man.  He survived skin cancer.

He wasn’t a fan of the holiday season, but it also seemed to me that he was the king of Thanksgiving.  He would make sure that we had a goose, turkey, or ham for the family dinner/lunch.  He would hold court at the patio table with the children and men until the final food preparations were finished (or sneak into the kitchen for a quick taste of a dish).  He may not have carved the meat every year, but he was the patriarchal figure that held our family together.

In the Spring of 2002, my grandfather passed away in the home that he built, in the home where so many of my best memories started.  I haven’t stopped missing him since  … but I am grateful that he was a part of my life and that he taught me life lessons that will stay with me forever.

My Mom & Dad’s Record Collection

NPR has been doing a series where people talk about records/songs that remind them of their parents called Mom & Dad’s Record Collection. Ever since I first heard the series, I’ve been thinking of what songs remind me of my mom and dad.

If anyone out there has met my parents, you/they will understand when I say that my parents are interesting. Their music choices are no different. My dad loves hip-hop and rock.  My mom loves music of almost any variety.

As child, I remember there was always some type of music playing.  My mom would be music blaring whenever we cleaned the house to hear it over the vacuum/dishwasher/washing machine.  My dad always had control of the music in the vehicles (much to my disgust as a teenager).

For my mom, I have two songs:

1. Michelle by The Beatles — My middle name is Michelle.  Whenever I was sick, my mom would stroke my hair and sing ‘Michelle’ from the album Rubber Soul.  As a teenager, she would do the same thing when I came home in tears due to some teenage drama.  Listening to it know now always makes me smile.  

2. Night Moves by Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band — My mom would sing this while dancing around the house on cleaning day.  She always played it before we had parties at the house.  Yes, I am warped. 🙂 

For my dad, I have only one song:

1. Opposites Attract by Paula Abdul — My dad had a crush on Paula Abdul when she first came out.  Whenever we rode in his truck, this cassette was playing.  It was either this, Baby Got Back by Sir Mix-A-Lot, or It’s Tricky by Run DMC. Mom would get in the truck and frown at him while my dad, my brother, and I “sang” Opposites Attract.  It was always hilarious and ended with us all laughing.