My grandpa “Moose” as we called him had many careers. He was a state policeman, he laid pipe line, he worked for a dairy farm and he also played Triple-A baseball and coached little league. But he loved nothing like he loved music.
I learned my affinity for melody from him. He used to play me old Irish ballads and songs from The Music Man and The Sound of Music. He also played me songs on the clarinet and flute. He told me at the very beginning of my foray into songwriting that out of my first batch of songs, only one had a melody that could catch a listener. I was slightly annoyed, but looking back, I know he was right.
Moose always wanted to write songs of his own and he did (a little) although not for long. Once he went to NYC to meet with a producer to show him his songs. I think he thought he needed permission to continue or he sensed he needed help. I don’t think that meeting went well and afterwards, he may have given up.
Could my grandfather have written his songs? Yes.
Did he feel disappointed because he had the desire and capability but lacked the know-how to make his dream fully come to be? Probably.
Did my grandpa have a lot to share due to his rich life experience? I’m sure.
Do I wish the songs he could’ve written existed today? You bet I do!
I did find a poem my grandfather wrote as well as the singular song above. Both mean so much to me. It’s like he’s alive through the page for a moment. I can join him in his experience. He’s right here with me.
So often, I wish I had “more of” the people who’ve left. More of my grandmother, more of my grandfather. For my grandmother, I have a crocheted blanket, a photo of us smiling together when I was 4 and many good memories. I loved her.
With my grandfather, even though I wish he had been able to write the songs he longed to and that I could now play them for my own children, I appreciate the legacy he did leave. He shared hundreds of pieces of music with me before I was even 9 years old and he took me on outings to town halls where big bands played.
His love of music is alive in me.
But my grandfather was drafted into a war, he threw out his pitching arm right before he had a big baseball opportunity and in his small town, even though he learned some through imitation (which is a great way to learn) he had no one to help him fully develop his songwriting craft so that he could appreciate his own songs the way he appreciated the classic ones he loved and played for me.
Sometimes I think it’s not fair. Who am I to get to write songs if my grandfather didn’t have the same chance? Back then, writing songs wasn’t something you could just do (or at least he didn’t have that experience). Someone needed to give you permission, tell you you were special (“had talent”). But the truth is no one is special AND each of us is special in our own way, which is precisely why it’s important for our unique voices to be heard in whatever form that takes.
I used to think I should honor the lives of my grandparents by struggling with them in solidarity, but the truth is I’m not helping him by not writing my songs and I can’t go back in time and help my grandpa write his.I can honor my ancestors by creating and doing now what their circumstances didn’t allow for.
What about you? What are the things your ancestors lives didn’t allow for that you long to do? Do you let yourself do them? Do you believe you honor your ancestors by doing the things you love?
Feel free to leave a comment below.
What will you leave? What will you make? What is your legacy?
Feel free to share below.
It’s possible your ancestors are rooting for you
PS: Soul Songs School and Our Luminaries Group starts March 5th! If you’d like to join us, simply enroll HERE
PS2: The amazing singer-songwriter Susan Werner joins me for Magic Music Monday this February 26th at 11amEST Booyah! Feel free to join us on my Facebook page.
Me & Moose