The Music of Memory
I couldn’t believe it when the doctor’s came in and told me the news. I’m too young to hear that something this sinister could be happening to my mother. How could something like this happen to my sweet, caring, crazy mother? And more importantly, how is she handling this so well?
“Mark, come here son.”
I walked towards her; her frail body reaching out for me. “I have one request for you, Markie. One simple request.”
“Anything, momma, you know that.”
“I want you to go home, after I pass, and I want you to better your life in every way you can. Pursue your dreams, find the girl you are meant to marry, be good to you father and your sister, and most of all, don’t let my death effect you in the same way that my breast cancer diagnosis did a month ago. It was bad, we all knew that, but it was worse watching you throw away your opportunities because you wouldn’t let anyone help you.”
“I promise, momma. I’m gonna make you so proud.”
A month later, I found myself pestered by questions from family and friends. “I want to know how to lose a few pounds, like you did. Can you tell me?” It’s like losing sixty pounds in a month was crazy or something. All I did was run, work on our farm, and run some more. It was much needed too; the month I had spent drunk and eating pizza had done quite the number on my body.
I guess I should mention that when I wasn’t running and working, I was writing songs and making music with my mom’s old marimba. I had it refurbished and it will travel with me as I set out on my newest adventure. There is a concert out in the fields just outside Oklahoma City that I am playing at, getting to kick off the afternoon by playing from noon to one.
Dad and I sat out on the porch the night before I left for OKC, our eyes gazing up at the amazing star display in the night sky as we drank a beer and talked about life. He’s never been a man of many words, but on that night, something stuck out to me that he had never said to me before.
“Son, I want you to know that I am so proud of you, you have worked hard to turn your life around and honor your mother.” Don’t worry, I had made him proud before. He told me he was proud when I graduated high school. It was the next part that caught me off guard. “And son, more than anything, I want you to know that no matter what you do in your life, no matter if you fail or succeed, I will always be here to help out and I will always love you.”
Oh, stop it you weepy eyed school girls, the man’s drunk, but damnit all he said he loves me and will love me forever. Sons need to hear that from their fathers, no matter how ridiculous and unmasculine men think it might be.
I woke up to the sounds of marimba music filling the air and the hot air blowing through the tent flap. I glanced at my watch: 9:30. I rolled off my cot and slipped into my dress shirt and favorite pair of black dress pants. I put my shoes on and walked outside to drink in the sunlight and hopefully wake up a bit before going to the stage. As I walked, I noticed that someone was watching me from a distance, occasionally slipping a few tents ahead to stay in front of me. I rounded the corner and almost bulldozed her.
“I’m so sorry, ma’am. I should look where I am walking. Excuse me.”
I turned to walk away when I felt her hand grab mine. I spun to face her once more, this time careful to avoid running into her.
“I’m sorry, I don’t mean to impose or interrupt your walk, but I was wondering what the inspiration of your songs were. They were so beautiful.”
“Well, thank you.” My charm was clearly doing a number on her, she was practically drooling as I spoke. “When I make music, it has to be something that I feel in here.” As I said “in here” I had grabbed her hand and placed it over my heart. “Those songs were about my mother. They come from her and her efforts to guide me to where I needed to be. It’s about finding my way without her leading me anymore.”
We shared a smile and then I excused myself as I walked back to my tent. When I got back, I slipped my hand in my back pocket and felt a slip of paper. I pulled it out and read the contents:
I personally think this instrument is unique and sounds pretty. Which is why I have collected a few stories from people who have made their own music with a marimba, as well as other fascinating instruments.