I just got back from a gig with a small version of the Milwaukee Mandolin Orchestra. Two people playing first, two people playing second, a bass, a mandocello, a guitar, and me on mandola. It was a last minute performance for a memorial service at the Milwaukee Athletic Club, which is a posh old-school kind of fancy place with pretty chandeliers and excellent service and food.
There are practical parts to setting up a stage, putting up stands
and organizing mics. It’s nice to spend time with fellow musicians.
It’s fun to make music. It’s odd being the hired help at an event where
people are in mourning.
The service was for a man who was only 53, but who made a big impact
in the area in terms of conservation. I didn’t know him, but he sounded
During the break in the middle of our set I got up to stretch my legs
and grab a snack, and I wound up at the front of the room where easels
were set up with loving tributes from the daughters of the deceased.
Pictures of sweet young girls about the same age as my own, hugging
their dad. One photo even showed the girls wearing uniforms for the
Milwaukee Children’s Choir, just like my daughters have. There were
carefully printed notes saying, “You’re the best dad in the world. I
wish you weren’t dead. I miss you.”
I have a post set to run this weekend about my husband in time for
Father’s Day. I just stood in front of those photos and drawings
thinking about how impossibly hard this Father’s Day will be for those
little girls. How hard every Father’s Day may now be for them.
I am glad I have my dad. I’m glad my kids have their dad. I don’t
take that for granted. My heart hurts tonight for people aren’t so
lucky and who will be missing their own fathers this weekend.
I think our group played well today. Many people told us they
enjoyed the music. It’s odd, in a way, to be invited into an emotional
event but set apart from the core of it. We were there to do a job.
But music isn’t like any other job. We are there to create beauty in
the air. I hope it helped make today less hard for some of the people
there. And I hope they know that even though we were hired help, we
appreciated the meaning of the moment. It was not just a gig. I will
not forget the little girls in those photos anytime soon.