Getting off the elevator, I saw him shuffling back to his room. Nurses affectionately greeted him as they hurried by. I quickly caught up with the slow moving wheelchair.
"Wanna race, Dad?" I teased as I kissed the top of his bald head.
Surprised blue eyes lit up. "Well, Sweetie, I wasn’t expecting you!"
"I can’t miss a date with my best fella to watch The Lawrence Welk Show." The lopsided grin told me that he had forgotten.
Dad pulled his wheelchair up to the TV while I settled into a nearby chair. This week’s program was a tribute to the Big Bands era when my parents met, married, and worked hard to get established. It was the music from the prime of their lives. Dad’s whole being responded with joy.
Within minutes, I, too, was transported back to early childhood. It was family tradition that we watched The Lawrence Welk Show together. While Dad delighted in memories of two-stepping to the rhythm of The Glenn Miller Band, I remembered the closeness of family. We weren't a musical family exactly. Mostly, we danced. I could almost hear Mom counting 1-2-3, 1-2-3 as I learned to waltz in the large farmhouse kitchen.
My elderly father became totally absorbed in the music, toes tapping. At ninety, a stroke had greatly affected his coordination. Yet his feet moved involuntarily in time with the music. Just for a moment, there was a glimmer of a much younger father rejuvenated by familiar refrains. I recalled the tall, strong man who measured his steps to mine as he skillfully guided me across the dance floor.
"They sure can dance, can't they?" he commented again on the twirling couple.
"Yes, they sure can, Dad." I agreed again, "I remember you and Mom dancing like that."
With an incredulous look, he responded "I think you're having trouble with YOUR memory now." We shared a laugh and a common bond.
In the car on the way home, I plugged in a CD. While listening to the beautiful lyrics of a favorite, I marveled at how words penned by an ancient psalmist set to a modern melody could still inspire the human spirit to praise the Lord. How wonderously God has designed us to respond with every emotion to simple tones organized into patterns which produces golden strands transcending the ages, generations, and even cultures – golden strands intricately woven throughout the fabric of everyday life.
Once home, I followed the sound of a blaring stereo to my daughter’s room. Cross-legged on her bed, homework spread in a semi-circle, head nodding to the throbbing bass, she was oblivious to my presence. Although I couldn’t appreciate the genre of her music choice any more than my mother related to mine, I chuckled at how life constantly changes yet stays the same. I closed her door quietly. Gone were the days of singing my infant to sleep with lullabies, teaching my toddler the ABC song, and later matching spelling words to simple tunes to help my grade schooler remember. Yet that teenager upstairs accomplished her homework in the same fashion I did decades earlier.
I wandered into the kitchen for a bedtime snack, still pondering how uniquely God uses music. I flipped on the radio to catch the weather forecast while I hunted for a treat. The chorus of a song popular a few years back caught my attention. Along with it came the emotions, now mostly healed, of a heart-wrenching loss. Their mournful lyrics gave voice to my own grieving. I chose chocolate. I ate a lot of it then, too.
Crawling under warm blankets, I instinctively reached for my Bible. Ironically, the devotion was “Sing onto the Lord a new song”. Meditating on the last several hours, I realized that I had revisited the musical score to my journey, in all its tragedy and comedy. Tonight, my father's spirit revived to familiar melodies while the same ones flooded me with waves of nostalgia. There was a recounting of the melodic accompaniment marking swift growth from baby to young adult. And a song which had been a companion in loneliness was a reminder that God heals all wounds.
But didn’t the Lord just instruct me to sing a new song? What would that be? I ended my day, as always, in prayer: “Lord, the last chorus of my life has not yet been sung. Whatever it turns out to be, may it praise Your Holy Name.” Amen.
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