Daddy, Bluegrass, Nickel Creek, And Aging

Well, last night was interesting and fun. And it has left me thinking about a lot of things today.

Nickel Creek played live at the Murat theatre last night, and because my dad is awesome he bought four tickets. Nate and I and my friend Courtney went with my dad, and Lindsay and her sister Meagan met us there as well. A fun time was had by all.

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I have tons of memories of my childhood, and in many of them I can hear my dad in the background playing his fiddle of mandolin. I can remember laying in bed with my sister struggling to go to sleep and listening to my dad walk around the house, armed with an instrument. He would often make his way into our bedroom and play in the doorway for awhile; it was soothing and always left me feeling happy when I fell asleep. Playing outside in the summer my dad would either be working hard in the yard or wandering around making music to the trees and the grass and the birds and us. In the evenings when I was older I can remember sitting at the bar doing homework or at the computer chatting with friends and listening to my dad in the living room or basement playing his bluegrass. He’d wander around and often eventually go outside for awhile. As younger kids he would play “Pop Goes the Weasel” on his fiddle and my sister and I would pluck the strings when it was time for the pop. I had my own tiny fiddle when I was a kid. Now Trent has his own, and I can’t wait for him to make his own music. Music, particularly bluegrass, is just part of my life.

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While we were eating and drinking before the show last night it struck me that my dad was older than everyone else with us, but he doesn’t act it. In fact neither of my parents seem old. I always get comments about having “cool parents.” Yeah, I know they’re cool. My dad doesn’t seem to act any differently… he doesn’t try to act young or change his views or opinions. He tells stories that are just perfect for the situation, shared his thoughts, makes people laugh, and treats people with respect. It’s hard not to want to be around him. When I was young at a music festival I can remember a family friend commenting that wherever Donnie goes others will follow. He has a natural charisma. He makes people happy and comfortable, and it’s hard not to want to be near him.

I sat next to him during the show last night. I had mentioned to him beforehand that I remembered being at a symphony concert with him during college and when someone got a wrong note we had given each other a sideways glance. He and I have pretty strong ears when it comes to things like that, and it’s like a secret we share when we notice wrong notes, strong improv, and other things. I love it. I looked sideways at him at one point last night and noticed he wears a nearly unnoticeable hearing aid. For some reason thinking about that right now makes me cry. I think of my dad the way I remember him 15 years ago. He doesn’t seem old to me. And neither does my mom. When people ask how old my parents are I immediately think 40-50, because that’s just how I think of them. I want my dad to be able to hear the music that’s made up his life just as clearly now as he always has, as clearly as I can still hear it in my memories.

I really struggle with the idea of mortality. The alternative isn’t too appealing and I know that, but getting older and seeing the people I love age along with me is really hard for me. Sometimes I wish I was still 9 or 10. I love my life now. I love my family and my boys and my job and the things I’ve experienced and accomplished. But I store miss being young and just having my mom and dad and sister around me all the time sometimes. I miss the innocence and wonder. I miss trotting around with my sister and the other bluegrass kids at festivals while my mom and dad played and listened to music and chatted.

Getting older and watching those around me age is one of the hardest things for me.

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