I have a dream every now and then that shakes me, leaving me thinking about it long into the hours of my morning.
I was in a living room of some unknown large house. My family was there. So was Papa's baritone saxophone. I pulled it out of its case and stuck a reed in my mouth, and set the large, heavy instrument upright. I placed the reed in the mouth piece and tightened it down and I started playing. It was a squeaky start, as it would have been in real life. And then I remembered a tune from my childhood and started to play it. It was imperfect but most of its integrity remained intact. What strange tune is this? I wondered in my dream head. When I woke up, I realized I had been playing Amazing Grace. I never remembered Papa playing that song much, when he'd rattle songs out mostly by piano or by voice (and though he played the clarinet and baritone saxophone well, and played big band music in his younger years, he never played his wind instruments much for us), but it was a tune I heard frequently in his home, mostly because my dad and grandma were always singing it. I loved to hear it when I was a kid because my middle name is Grace, and I thought they were singing it to me, and telling me I was Amazing. They knew this, so they sang it a bunch around me.
But the dream made me ache with remembrance of my grandfather. And I cursed my brain a little bit for not allowing the man to make an appearance into my dream, too. Just his most prized instrument, and a tune that reminded me of being a kid my grandparents' house and feeling like Amazing laura Grace.
I found it both strange and apt that a reminder of my Papa should come to me in a week that I've started focusing so much on learning to love my life. My grandfather died 8 years ago of Parkinson's disease. Before the condition started to take him down, he was a boisterous and inspiring personality and at times a force to be reckoned with. When I think of Papa, I think of him going room to room in his home or ours singing... loudly. He'd sing out accolades to his wife when she wandered too far in the house and wanted her back close again, Juney! Oh my sweet Juney dear! and so on. He sang so much. Or he'd yell once loudly when us kids got too rowdy. We'd stop doing what we were doing immediately and he'd look surprised at his own force, and five seconds later he'd be singing to us again.
And the man would get on the piano and he'd kill it. He could play anything he wished, mostly his old big band songs. We'd watch in awe, or ignore him, depending on how distracted we were. But there was never a doubt that Papa loved his life.
Here's to you and the life you lived, Papa. A life never without fieriness. I hope I can learn to sing out in my own way just like you did.