is the grass any bluer...

is the grass any bluer...
on the other side?

Friday, February 24, 2012

February, Fugues and Funerals

This month has not been kind to me.  February, that mysterious month with only 28 days, except this year, this thing called leap year.  Why so, I wonder?  It's not as if the calendar is leaping anywhere, it seems as if the calendar is falling back a day, it's not leaping over a day...and it's more than that which annoys me about February. It's cold.  It's hot.  Mardi Gras doesn't shiver me timbers anymore, although Ash Wednesday follows and I can go into hibernation for the next 40 days.  

I'm not hatin' on Fat Tuesday, I just don't love it.  I like rum, but Rum, she don't like me, so I am not a fan of drinking Hurricanes until I get sick.  The whole beads-for-boobs thing is so sexist and just stinks of testosterone with an extra y gene or something.  Yeah yeah, have the parade, do what you want, but keep the skanks and lovers of skanks away from me. I'm all meh about all that stuff.  

Thus it's safe to say I'm just not really fond of February...especially this February.  There.  I said it.  
Gotta love her Easter bonnet!  :) 

I realize every single solitary day of our lives has to be taken-to, each day as if it were one of Aunt Bee's pickles: ya just gotta learn to love 'em.  This month, this February has been marked by a series of extraordinary events, and although I've been quiet lately, there comes a time when  I know that I need to vent, unload my heart and talk to you lambchops, or to myself or maybe the Big Guy Upstairs has a PC and follows my blog.  

So when I'm upset, eventually I come here, back to my garden, and talk.  Jesus went to the Garden...and so can I.  Jesus isolated himself and went to pray, to the Garden, alone, while the dew is still on the roses...I love that line of that song... and so I think it's only proper to grieve within myself and not burden others, even though I know it will be halved if I share it with someone.  So yesterday, I was leaving to attend one of the dearest friends I ever had, and I had shared with my bosses that I'd been out of the office a lot lately, and why that had happened...and they both responded with very kind, thoughtful messages.  It brought me to tears to think folks cared about my condition, about the heartache over losing my brother and friend Mayme Hamby.  She was a fine piano player, a wonderful alto, and just gorgeous, inside and out.  She sat next to me for years in the choir until health began to decline. Mayme was a special lady, and I will never meet anyone like her, ever again.  The funny thing at the service that happened to me was that her sister was there, and it was as if I was seeing Mayme herself!  I lost my breath.  It was surreal. I of course went over to her and introduced myself, and she had the same voice, the same look in her eyes as my dear Mayme, sweet as Mayme, too.  Her service was beautiful but I was in bad shape, emotionally, sitting beside my friend and savior Tom Bragg, who Mayme always called "Tim," my last husband's name (lol).  Tom figured out ways to cheer me up afterward and we went to choir last night, and that was healing in and of itself.

Speaking of choir at this time, we are rehearsing all sorts of Kyrie Eleison songs, removing all the fancy music and tables and the cross in the sanctuary, and we simply sing a Kyrie every Sunday throughout Lent, and we sing the Lord's Prayer versus saying it, and the choir also performs an appropriate anthem for the lenten season.  Lent is a time to bare your soul, to look inside yourself and find ways to be more like Jesus of Nazareth.  So back to choir...we're practicing the regular Easter music, but this year have added Mozart's Requiem thanks to a generous gift to the choir. We will have an orchestra, a harpsichord, and Dr. George Zack will be guest conducting us, so we are very excited about the Requiem.  

In this master work of Mozart, there are often fugues, double fugues, and echoing passages, tossing back and forth playfully as only Mozart could do.  The sopranos sing below the altos at times, and the same goes for basses singing above the tenors.  It's fascinating to see how Mozart used the music to paint the text, and every week I discover something new and charming about this piece.  Yes, it is a mass for the dead, but while it is mournful, it is also raging at times, it defines what it is like to be dying.  Singing it and studying it will scare the living daylights out of you, but it will also soothe you at the same time. It will let you get mad, but give you hope.  It is quite simply, a miraculous work of a miraculous composer.  
Marshall and my Pops at the Greenbrier 

I'm especially glad to be singing the Requiem because it is helping me with the grieving process, for my brother, Marshall, who passed away 2 days before another dear one to me, my Mayme, on the 18th of February.  He was just 54, and had been in poor health for years.  I had been estranged from him, for a wound that should have healed a long ago. We were both stubborn and unforgiving in the times, myself when I most needed to forgive, and so it was that he was dying, the family was called to his bedside, and we drove to Boone, North Carolina, to visit him and say goodbye.  I'm so privileged that I had the chance to joke with him and ask him to forgive me for anything I'd ever done or said to hurt him in any way.  He whispered, "wtf?" and looked at me as if I was being silly asking him for forgiveness.  We spent a few hours reminiscing ... mostly me talking since he lost his voice a few years ago, and I pestered him with stories, songs, fed him spoonfuls of water, played the ukulele a little bit -- he kept wanting our other brother Addison to play instead of me, though, and wanted to hear some Led Zeppelin song we later figured out he was saying "Tangerine," and I was happy to let Ad pick away at the uke so I could talk and pray with Marshall some more.  He told me of a fight he'd had with the Devil.  He said it was more than a person, it was a scary, all-encompassing force in the room.  I asked him who won, and he just tried to laugh a little bit.  He said, 'good question.'  He was groggy from the morphine and may have just dreamed he had a fight with Satan, but I thought it important to listen to what he was trying to say. 

I'm just super glad we went to see him, it was the most important journey I ever made...even though we almost didn't get there (thanks to Mapquest) -- we had Tennessee state troopers escort us into North Carolina, then they showed us how to get up the mountain to get to Boone.  Thanks to my sisters and niece, we somehow made it to there and back for the trip to see Marshall ... and he died just a few days after we left. I think he was waiting to see his sisters before leaving this Life.  I believe he is a redeemed and forgiven child of God, and he is now playing golf with Mom and Dad at the Greenbrier in Heaven, perhaps Mayme is playing piano, and the whole place is filled with laughter.  I do believe he will have life everlasting.  The promise is not vain...morn shall tearless be.

If you are still reading all this, well thanks!  It's not a funny or clever blog post, but it is honest.  In this February, I have been heavyhearted because two of the closest souls to me passed away. I have seen the grief in their children's eyes, and have cried myself blind, literally blind because I could not open my swollen eyes.  That's where Mozart's Lacrimosa comes into play -- listening to that, singing it and playing the alto part to it on my ukulele has been so healing for me.  The text reveals the pain of death, and these are all songs that literally confront the grave and all it involves.  The movements of Mozart's Requiem help me cope with the awfulness of thinking that my brother is gone, that my dear sweet Mayme is no longer playing the piano or telling jokes or playing Irish hymns on the church carillon.  I have written an obituary and made calls about plots and times and pastoral care.  I have been the best Kimmy I can be throughout this, but I need strength and courage to face the days to come...and I know that my prayers will be answered.  "I trace the rainbow through the rain."  That is a lyric from O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go, one of my favorite hymns, btw. 
Go Big Blue!

So, I will not be sad when Thursday arrives and it is March, the month of spring, the month when my son was born, the month when basketball makes the world go 'round, and the month when Spring arrives with all her pretty Irises and Tulips and the bulbs become flowers...and I can start handicapping in the most amateur way possible the contenders of the greatest of all sporting events, the Kentucky Derby, when the sun shines bright, indeed.


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