Sunday, June 20, 2010


June holds for me two significant events - Father's Day and my wedding anniversary. This year, the two dates are only a couple of days apart.

Eight years ago, I married my lovely wife Jana. On the day before our wedding, she gave me a gift: a Gibson "Buddy Holly" reissue J-45 acoustic guitar, one of only 250 in existence. I gave her a Miles Davis album. That was kind of awkward.

Her gift to me is my single most prized possession (when it comes to "things" that I have), and having it has forever removed the desire in my being to have any other acoustic guitar. They say that things only satisfy you for so long before you want something new and shiny, and I would agree with that, except in the case of that guitar. And a lot of that has to do with the fact that it is a symbol of something bigger than wood and string or even music itself.

My father has the same guitar. An old one, from the sixties, that he got when he was a younger man. Growing up, some of my most important memories involve my father playing that guitar in our home. As I've gotten older myself, I don't really know if he played it all that much, but the times he did must have stuck to me like flypaper because in my memory, he played all the time. I always loved it when he would play; when he and my mother would practice some special song for a church service. I loved that my house had music in it [For a long time, I thought my dad wrote "Jack & Diane" and "Star of Bethlehem;" imagine my disappointment.]. And I always loved that old guitar. It was there for me as a teenager when I learned to play, and I built up a few callouses from the hours I spent banging out chords. And I do mean "banging."

I think of my father when I play my own guitar, something I do nearly every day. As the current of my life seems to take me further and further away from the performance stage, my own J-45 doesn't find many occasions to leave the house. Fortunately, my wife has given birth to a small audience of eager and enthusiastic music fans, one of whom is only big enough to enjoy banging on the side of it as I play for him in the floor. And I do mean "banging."

And so it goes that on a (mostly) daily basis, I hope to somehow be a bridge of what was in my own life to what is and will be in the lives of my own children. I hope to carry on the goodness I saw (and continue to see) in my father and to be a kind of father that imparts something lasting and good in my kids. I don't know if my father really knows the impact he has had on my life or if he imagines himself to be a "successful" man. I guess I feel the same way in my own life.

But when there's a tiny little girl singing silly songs and a small baby boy using my guitar as a percussion instrument, I begin to think less of my own life and more of the hope in theirs. 

My father taught me that.

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