We like to sing in this home. I do not mean trained, you should try out for a Hollywood competition; WOW! that was amazing kind of singing. No. Here we just burst out in song over the silliest things, often at the most unexpected times. A bit like living in a musical, without a script or accompaniment by orchestras or bands. Although, everyone here has a guitar, except me (I have a ukulele); so, I suppose we could grab our instruments and strum along, if we ever knew a song was about to begin. But usually, it just happens.
My grandchildren and I also like to sing along to the wonderful music in movies we watch together. Again, not necessarily planned, we just like the freedom to join in when a song moves us. Much like when we watch Tangled: We will be enjoying the movie running in the background, kids playing with toys on the floor, Grandma moving in and out of the room, busying herself with the needs of the day, or sitting on the sofa crocheting or writing, when suddenly the volume mysteriously cranks up to 50 (the remote rests on the little table by where I sit on the sofa), and we all glance at the screen to see Rapunzel and Flynn Rider in a boat at night, paper lanterns floating from the castle to the sky, and the duet “I See the Light” begins. Personally, I think this is one of our better efforts, as my two granddaughters join Rapunzel in her part, and I sing along with my grandson as he helps Flynn sing his. We know the words by heart, and it is as though we, too, are in the boat struck by the beauty of the moment.
There are many things I know my grandchildren will remember about me later in their lives, and I smile when I think of the music we make singing together or to each other. I especially love how they jump out of bed, grinning and full of hugs as their mornings often begin with this grandma whisper-singing a song I sang to their dad and his sister when they were the same ages. It’s a catchy little tune that Barry McGuire sang on his album, Bull Frogs and Butterflies; “Good morning, good morning, good morning; it’s time to rise and shine! Good morning, good morning, good morning, I hope you’re feeling fine! It’s time to get up you sleepy head, it’s time to get up, get out of bed…”. A tune well worth singing, and a memory worth adding to the treasure trove of family joys.
Looking back on my own childhood, it never occurred to me all families did not have a dad who sang into the mirror every morning as he shaved and got ready for work. I had no idea all little girls did not get whirled around in a waltz as their dads entered the living room, and majestically danced with them as he finished his serenade; a beautiful beginning to another day as the dad prepared to go one way, and the daughter headed off to school. That seemed normal, because that is what we did.
And how could I have guessed all grandfathers did not play a fiddle while dads played a guitar? And everyone did not sing together just because it was Sunday? We were country traditional and predictable: Chicken dinner, father and grandfather pitching horseshoes, mother and grandmother cleaning up and visiting in the kitchen, kids playing outside until late afternoon. Then, as the day came to a close, we knew it was music time. We gathered in our grandparents’ living room, violin and guitar retrieved from their respective cases, and after a little plucking and tuning, the songfest began. Simple country tunes; old, been around forever songs that we all knew and loved. Grown ups singing to kids, kids singing to everyone and everything at the top of their voices. A pretty good way to end any day, especially family Sundays.
In a time when every member of a family seems to own an electronic device for all activities from communicating to recreation, and voices are exchanged for digital input and outgo, I wonder at the loss of something dear and memorable. Time spent connected to each other. There is not one single text message I have received, nor status update I have read; game played or lost that I can recall as having any significant or lasting impact on my life. Yet, never will I think on those days at my grandparents’ home where we lived simply and happily together, a family connected through work, play, music, and love; and not long from my heart’s deepest desire to have had just one more day or one more song with them.
Perhaps it is time we set our electronic toys aside for a little while, dust off our violins and guitars, look up into the eyes of those we love, and crank our voices up to 50; singing a song of today and tomorrow, while holding fast to all those who have led us here. I will never believe it is too late to step up on that life stage, and belt out (quick, someone cue the Sister Sledge song!)…
We are family, get up ev’rybody and sing...