September 17, 2009

R.I.P. Mary Travers

My heart is heavy this morning. The first thing I heard on the news when I woke up was that Mary Travers of Peter, Paul and Mary had died. I knew she had been sick for years, suffering from leukemia, and that she had taken a turn for the worse over the summer, so it wasn't totally unexpected. Still, I feel like a part of my childhood is gone.

I first heard about PP&M when I was 12 years old and went to Girl Scout camp for the first time. Like millions of other people around the world, we'd sit around the campfire at night singing their songs: Puff, Blowin' in the Wind, Cruel War, and on and on. I got my first guitar when I was 14. I bought a PP&M songbook and a book of chord diagrams and taught myself how to play. That summer, my sister took me to my very first live concert -- PP&M at Carter Barron Amphitheater in Washington, DC. I sat with binoculars and watched the chords Peter and Paul played on every song. I sang along with them, as did the rest of the audience. It was magical!

I can't even count how many times I saw them in concert through the years. I introduced my sons to their music when they were just babies, and took them to see PP&M at Wolf Trap. The first time we took Paul to see them, I stood in line for hours the day that tickets went on sale. It was worth it -- we actually ended up sitting in folding chairs in the orchestra pit! We could see the sweat on their brows as they sang. Before the concert began, I saw the three of them standing in the wings, waiting to make their signature entrance (holding hands and running onstage). Mary actually looked at me and waved! Wow!

I remember when they broke up the group in the late '60's. They each wanted to try a solo career, but they were never as successful as when the three of them sang together. Less than 10 years later -- in 1978, to be exact -- they came back together for their "Reunion" tour. I remember going to Merriweather Post Pavillion and watching them, tears running down my eyes when they came out for an encore and sang "Like the First Time". The words: Like the first time, only better, we're a song that must be sung together. How true.

Think about what an impact these three people had on the culture and history of our country. They stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial with Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. at the March on Washington. They rallied people to fight against discrimination and apartheid; they fought for peace around the world. They were activists for almost 50 years!

To me, though, that was secondary to their music. The intricate harmonies, the moving lyrics, the funny children's songs -- so much talent and so much joy. I still choose to listen to their music most any time over any other artists I know.

So, farewell, Mary. It was a wonderful 50 years! Thank you for all the memories you helped me to create. I'll miss you!

September 9, 2009

Never Forget!

Today is September 9, which means that in just two days it will be 9/11 again. A day of remembrance....a day to pause and honor the thousands of men, women and children who died on September 11, 2001 when our country was attacked by terrorists. There have been many, many news articles, commentaries, blogs, books, etc., written about it, and there will be more written this week on the anniversary of the attack.

I'm no one special -- just an ordinary citizen -- and my words will be read by few people. But I believe that in many ways, I stand for the majority of Americans...for the every day citizens who weren't heroes that day, but whose lives were changed forever by the events that took place. And I'm worried because I think so many of us have come to view September 11 as just another day that falls between the 10th and the 12th of the month. How many of us really stop and think about it; stop and remember where we were, what we were doing, how we felt when we saw the images on TV. I guess if you're home on Friday morning or somewhere near a TV, you'll watch one of the morning news shows and see how they remember the day. Maybe you'll catch the evening news or watch a news special Friday night.

What will I be doing? I'll be sitting in a room Friday evening with about 200 other members of Sweet Adelines, learning about singing better and watching some great entertainment. For months, I've been helping to plan this weekend-long event, and it didn't even sink in that we were holding the first day on September 11! In my brain, it was just a date. And yet, I've been to the site of the attack on the Pentagon a number of times. I've taken tour groups to the new memorial to the 189 people who died in that part of the attack. I've visited the site of the Flight 93 crash in Pennsylvania several times. I pass it every time I go to visit my son who lives near Pittsburgh. Why didn't the date register in my head while planning for the weekend?

I think it's because it seems so distant now. It's been 8 years, but it feels like 20. So much has happened since that attack, even within my own family: births, deaths, marriage, divorce, graduations, illness...good and bad. So much water under the bridge. But I -- no, WE -- must never forget that so many young men and women have died in the war that followed September 11 and is still going on today. We have been safe these past 8 years in great part because of the sacrifices they have made!

I'm lucky that I haven't had to send one of my sons into harms way, but I know plenty of others who have. In their honor, I'll spend some special time on Friday just thinking about them and all the other men and women around the world who are fighting to keep me safe. I'll say a prayer for their continued safety and for ours as a Nation. And I'll encourage my friends, family, and everyone I know or run across that day to take a few minutes out of their busy lives and do the same thing. If we don't do that -- if we don't spend time remembering that awful day of September 11, 2001 -- then it is bound to happen again. We can't let that happen!

Never forget....

September 3, 2009

One Month Old

I can't believe that my precious little grandniece (or is it "great-niece" -- I still don't know for sure) is a month old today! Again, I find myself asking where the time goes? It seems that as I get older, the days, weeks and months fly by faster and faster. I wish there were a way to slow down time.

Ah, but back to Hannah. She is so beautiful! I love babies when they're brand new. They're so helpless and cute. All they want is to be fed, changed and loved, and I've had a chance to do all of those things with her. Bless her mother, my niece, for giving me the chance to babysit for an hour or so earlier this week. It was nice to have some one-on-one time with this sweet little girl. It brings such joy to my heart to hold a baby in my arms again, even though I'm not the grandmother.

But it also reminds me of the emptiness and aching that lives in my heart every day because I can't see my own, true granddaughter, Taryn. Her mother has taken her away from us and won't allow us to be a part of her life. Taryn will turn 4 next month and it's been over three years since I last saw her. Every day I pray that her mother's heart will soften and she'll allow that beautiful little girl to rejoin our family. Some day....some day...