My dad was born in Mississippi but moved up north as a teen to find work, because in his words he said, “I’m not picking cotton the rest of my life!” So he moved to Michigan and picked cherries! At least it was cooler there in the summer and instead of bending over he was reaching up!
He later met my mom, married, had seven children and worked in a factory trying to make ends meet. With seven mouths to feed, those ends usually didn’t meet, but thankfully my mom’s parents helped us out more often than not.
Every summer my dad got a week’s vacation and we would fill our old station wagon up with suitcases and food and head south to Mississippi. This was during the 1950’s so there was no air conditioning in that old wagon of ours! For this reason, dad liked to travel at night because it was cooler and the children would sleep.
Travelling at night on that old two lane highway, windows down, hot air blowing in and fumes burning our eyes, was an experience I’ll never forget. Everyone was asleep in the car and dad would have the car radio on an AM station playing country music. He liked country music, especially, Johnny Cash and Hank Williams. He thought I was asleep, but I wasn’t, I was listening too.
Dad liked to play his guitar and sing at home. Lots of nights when we were in bed, he’d strum his old guitar and sing country or gospel songs. He would even write songs and it was so soothing to hear his voice. His brothers played guitar and his oldest brother played the fiddle. His mother played the piano and she played for her church in rural Mississippi at Jerusalem Baptist Church. That’s where my dad’s family are mostly buried.
I remember going to church with my grandma one Wednesday night. They had an old upright piano in the center of the stage against the wall. She was playing that night for congregational singing. She sat on that piano bench with her back to us and accompanying the singing with her playing. I never even knew she played the piano until that night.
In her living room she had an old upright black piano. I was so small I could barely climb up on the stool, but I would every chance I got! I loved that old piano and I would pound those keys as hard as I could. When I did, here she’d come running and make me get down. I would obey, but I wanted a piano from that time on.
I was seven years old that summer and when we got back home, I started begging my parents for a piano. They couldn’t afford to buy a new piano. I was just a kid and I didn’t give up begging. I wanted a piano!
One afternoon I came home from school and my mom was smiling as she told me, “Your dad and Uncle Bill have gone to get you something.”
I replied, “What is it? ..What is it?” But she wouldn’t tell me.
“It’s a surprise!” That’s all she would say.
I was so excited and couldn’t imagine what it could be. I never dreamed it was a piano, but it was! In a little while dad and my Uncle Bill backed his old pickup truck up to our front porch and there it was…an old beaten up, keys sticking, had seen better days…piano, but it was the most beautiful sight to me! I was ecstatic!
They moved it in our living room and placed it up against the wall and I sat down! I couldn’t play but a few chords but it sounded beautiful! Never mind that it was basically a piece of junk that someone wanted off their hands, that half the keys would stick, and that it was so out of tune…to me it was priceless!
Years passed and I did learn to play that old piano. Eventually dad and mom bought me a brand new one for Christmas, but I have to tell you it didn’t mean as much to me as that old upright, for some reason.
Today, I have a beautiful piano in our family room and I’m teaching my youngest grandson to play. My son and my daughter both play piano…my daughter-in-law plays beautifully. My daughter-in-law is a Music Therapist. She also plays violin and guitar.
I’m not a classical pianist and I don’t play at Carnegie Hall, but the joy of playing music has brought me such pleasure through the years and still does. If I’m feeling down or a little blue, I play and it brightens my mood.
The point I’m trying to make is, it’s the simple things in life that can bring us the most pleasure. Don’t think you have to be great or famous…just enjoy life and the simple pleasure it brings!
I like this quote I read, “I want to live my life without, stress and worries. I don’t need to be rich and famous, I just want to be HAPPY.”
My sentiments exactly!