Archive for August, 2015

Ohio roots: Chuck with a guitar

Sunday, August 23rd, 2015

We just returned from our first family trip to Ohio. My aunt Amy shared another handful of old photos she found for me, which included this gem. It’s a newly-wed Chuck at 25, in what looks to me like Gran’mom Sarah and Gran’pop Roger’s house in Orlando, strumming Jean’s guitar:

When Jean was in college, she bought a guitar and began teaching herself to play. Over time, after she and Chuck married, it became Dad’s to play, although Jean still asserted that “it’s My guitar.”

I have many fond memories of listening to my Dad play and sing folk songs from the 1960s and 1970s. Pete Seeger and The Weavers, Peter Paul and Mary, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Judy Collins, the Beach Boys, and other singer-songwriters were all cherished performers in our home. Sometimes, Mom and I sang along, too. And occasionally, they hosted wonderful parties where their friends played and sang, too.

I admired — and envied — people like my Dad who could play and sing at the same time. After high school, when I played bass guitar in a band* with Geoff Fish and Del, I aspired to get good enough to sing, too. But while I achieved some proficiency on bass, I never practiced enough to multi-task. I was also too self-conscious to want a microphone in front of me.

* Geoff and Del were both 5-8 years older than me, and called us The Lawrence Welk Renegades. It sounded funny to me, but I wasn’t really old enough to get the reference.

* * *
Last summer, when the girls were two, we managed to spend a day in Galveston every week or two. This summer, I’ve been busy assembling submittals and building website content for Traffic Engineers, Inc. (TEI), and I’m sad to admit we have only made it to Galveston 6 or 7 times this summer.

Bill was in London for the last three weeks of July on proposal work for Wipro. He got 36 hours at home the weekend of the 18th, but we saw him little between flight delays and jet lag. The Zoo snow day was all we really managed.

In Bill’s absence, I decided to make the most of it by taking Sam and Cate on their first overnight grandparent visits. We spent one night at Gram Nancy’s house, and we spent a night in Galveston, too.

We had big plans for that Friday morning (July 31): Dr. Glenn (my dentist) invited us to come fish (for the first time!) from his dock, and ride in his boat, and swim in his pool. Unfortunately, Sam and I were awake from about 2 am to 6 am, after she succumbed to the puking bug that Cate suffered from the prior Sunday night. Poor kids.

When Cate woke, Baba Jean found her breakfast and entertained her so Sam and I could sleep, for which I’m most grateful. Friday afternoon brought much-needed naps, which helped immensely. When the girls woke, Dad and I were sitting in the office. They pointed to the guitar, hanging from the bookshelves, and I asked Dad to play something for us.

He hasn’t practiced in too long. He can barely see for cataracts and retina damage. The tremor makes his arms shake even as his hands finger long-familiar chords. The affliction of it all is profoundly sad. But hearing Chuck play for Cate and Sam, and hearing them start to learn the haunting melody of “Goodnight, Irene” makes me really, really happy.

Apologies for the upside-down free-handed video. I may be able to right it the next time I can upload files from my mom’s phone. In the meantime, the audio makes me happy.

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