Sing like you mean itApril 17, 2011
Sing like you mean it. That alone makes it beautiful.
I really believe that. We don’t all have great singing voices but we can all sing, and the person I most enjoyed watching as he sang was my brother Chuckie. He couldn’t carry a tune in a bushel basket, but his face lit up with joy and he sang with such gusto that everyone around him felt compelled to join in the fun.
In the evenings when we were young Grandpa John would pull out his guitar and teach us folk songs and ballads that are still dear to my heart. The Streets of Laredo, Down in the Valley, Red River Valley, Home on the Range, Greensleeves and Blue Tail Fly (Jimmy Crack Corn) are a handful of history-speaking songs he sang in his smooth tenor voice that, in my quiet moments, I can still hear in my mind. Even after I was married and moved away Grandpa John and I would get together to do a mean rendition of Harry Chapin’s Salt and Pepper.
Even your great-great-great grandmother, Gramma-at-the-Lake, got in on the act to teach us It Ain’t Gonna Rain No More (she was Harry’s mother and her name was Mary Markley, but we really did call her Gramma-at-the-Lake. As I told you before, she also told us to always walk with our toes up so we wouldn’t stub them, and to never curse but always say, “Oh, Jupiter!”).
We sang through Tommy’s illness as nuns, priests and deacons visited the house with their guitars and taught us an Easter praise song—among others—that we called “Allelu.”
Everybody sing Allelu!
For the Lord is risen, it is true,
Everybody sing Allelu!
We laughed when Uncle Dave (aged 2 at the time) belted the song with the full power of his lungs singing, “Auntie Lou, Auntie Lou, everybody sing Auntie Lou!” Auntie Lou was one of our Minnesota aunts he had met for the first time a short time earlier.
We sang the Notre Dame Fight Song when the football players invaded the house with their huge bodies, to visit and bring gifts to Tommy.
Music remained important to me all of my life, singing around the campfire for the five summers I worked at Camp Millhouse, in the school choir all through school and swing choir in high school. I can’t count the songs I taught to your dad, Kimberly, Heather and Jenny.