Thursday, June 16, 2011

Not Just a Gig (Babble)

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 remarkable.

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.

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