Posted tagged ‘Dad’

My Father’s Daughter

June 16, 2010

Many people will tell you their father is awesome.  I’m one of them.  My dad is not perfect, but he keeps trying, and he knows how to help me keep trying too.  I’m my father’s daughter in a lot of ways.  I’ve been told since I was small that I look like my dad; I have his (near-sighted) blue eyes, his curly hair, and his light build.  I’m like him in several personality points as well, but my favorite similarity is our musical talent.

I remember the first time I did special music with my father.  Dad did special music on a fairly regular basis at church (the same one where I was baptized), and one day when I was eight or nine, he asked me if I would like to sing with him.  Of course I wanted to.  I loved to watch him do specials, and I had dreamed of doing one too.

We decided to do “Amazing Grace.”  A very original song choice, I know, but it was my favorite song at the time, and one that I already had almost memorized.  We rehearsed for several weeks.  I remember being nervous in practice because I had difficulty picking out my cue to begin.  You see, Dad had me sing the first verse solo while he accompanied on his guitar.  Then he sang a second verse solo, and we both sang the last verse. 

But I couldn’t seem to figure out where to come in. 

I would start the first verse too early, or I would be late.  Finally, Dad began giving me a visible signal, dipping his guitar toward me just a little so that I would know when to start singing.

The day we did our special, I was pretty excited.  I don’t think I remembered much of the rest of the service that day.  I was too focused on being ready when it was our turn.  We had checked out the microphones before Sunday School, so that was all set, we just had to walk up, and Dad had to get his guitar ready, and then we could sing.  That was plenty of time for me to get nervous, however.

We weren’t going to a huge church, but it was big enough to be intimidating to me.  I looked at the congregation and was glad I wasn’t up there alone.  As it was, I suddenly developed nerves.  But Dad started his introduction, and I turned my head enough that I could see his signal when it came.  I certainly didn’t want to miss that in front of all those people!

I got through the song just fine, and I became more comfortable as we went on.  Once it was over, though, I think I felt like running back to my seat.  Several people said nice things to me afterward, but I was so shy and nervous that I could make little response.  I did want to know that people liked it, but I wasn’t sure how to respond.  After all, this was new territory for me.

I’ve done quite a few specials with my father since that first one.  Our specialties are hymns and some old choruses.  These days I usually have my guitar too.  Yes, I learned to play from my father, using his old guitar.  We’ll have a double duet, my father and myself, and Betsy and Marie.  I used to wonder why my sister got her tendency to name everything; I don’t wonder after I learned that my Dad named his guitars. 

My singing sounds much better now (especially since I’ve been taking singing lessons), and Dad sometimes will sing harmony beneath my melody.  I have to smile sometimes because I may carry the melody in the vocals, but Dad definitely has the cool guitar part.  I just keep the rhythm going.  Still, I know I’m contributing in both ways, and it sounds pretty good to me, even though I don’t hear it in the correct balance because I’m one of the performers.  For our latest special, I even sang solo with Dad accompanying on his guitar.  Singing solo has been a major hurdle for me, and I’m glad to have finally made it over.

I’m my father’s daughter in another way; I seem to have inherited his songwriting gene.  Dad has written a dozen or more songs, some of which I like to play with him and others which he sings alone.  I sometimes feel like I have a song simmering inside me, but as yet, only a few have come forth.  For every good song I’ve started at least three that I couldn’t get right.  I doubt that my songs will ever end up on the top 40 list, but they are one more way that I express my joy.

Some of my favorite times have been playing guitar with my father, learning new songs and coming up with different arrangements of old ones.  Thanks, Dad, for giving me a new outlet for the music in my heart.

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Memories of My Childhood Church

April 28, 2010

Lately I’ve thought quite a bit about the church I was at as a child.  I remember the first day we attended there, back when I was four, and how panicked I felt at going into a strange Sunday School classroom full of strange people.  I can’t recall how fast that feeling wore off, but I know that the teacher for that class, a college student at the time, quickly became a favorite with me and with my younger siblings.  I have fond memories of the times she babysat us.

I remember that I thought the coat racks were weird.  They were built into one wall of the entryway, and there was a second tier which seemed too high for anyone to reach.  Now, I was pretty small then myself, so I’m not sure just how much of that was perspective, but I don’t recall seeing coats on that bar very often.

Directly opposite as you walked in the front door was the pastor’s office.  I went in there sometimes when my mother used to be in charge of doing the church directory.  Otherwise it wasn’t a place I was encouraged to play.  I remember when they build the sound booth off one corner of the office, with a window cut into the back wall of the sanctuary so that the sound guy could see the worship leader.  I always thought that was so cool.

I remember helping Mom do some of the gardening work out front.  She wasn’t the only one at church with a green thumb, and someone else eventually took over, but for a year or two my mother was the one who had the time.  Being a homeschooling mom, she had a flexible schedule!  I learned quite a bit about how to plan out a flower bed to the best advantage, something I’ve turned to good advantage in other arenas as well.

I went back to that church a couple of years ago for a wedding.  They’ve added a new wing onto the building, creating a new sanctuary and fellowship hall.  The old sanctuary has mostly been broken up into smaller rooms for offices and things, but I took a peek inside what was left.  The baptismal was still there, right where it was in ‘96 when I got baptized.

Two years ago I wrote a piece about the memory I have of that day.  It doesn’t include anything about the nerve wracking experience of telling the pastor that I wanted to be baptized, or the Sunday when I, shy seven-year-old that I was, stood up front with the pastor at the end of the service while he announced the baptismal to our large congregation, but it does give a pretty good account of the day itself.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost

The month was in November,
just before I was eight.
I remember the baptismal,
I was dressed in white.

It felt surreal to slip out of service,
before the closing prayer.
I didn’t do it often,
but my mother was along.

I changed out of Sunday best,
so I wouldn’t get it soaked,
but I forgot to take off my necklace,
so I wore it through the wet.

We actually used the back stair
of rough planks, lined with storage.
I’d always stood in awe of it,
because Mom didn’t want us there.

The waiting seems quite short to me,
in retrospect at least,
but I think it took much longer
when I stood upon the stairs.

Finally Pastor W.,
with fishing waders on,
finished talking to the watching eyes,
and called me to come down.

Scared of water I was still,
but gently on I came.
Wet was okay on my feet,
my stomach, then my hands.

He helped me stand upon the box
before he spoke the words
I closed my eyes and grabbed my nose –
and came up spluttering.

My feet hadn’t found the box again,
but they somehow found the stair.
Pastor W. smoothed it over;
I was like my father, he said.

Dad, it seems, had done the same,
only a few years before,
and when I think that he was grown,
I smile a little now.

Dad had been a Christian
since he was in his teens
but he didn’t travel through the wet
till I was small but ‘ware.

I have a vague remembrance
of watching Daddy slip.
I like to think that Dad and I
share a baptismal tale.

A dripping girl, but smiling,
I went with Mom to change.
‘Twas then I found my necklace
had gotten baptized too.

A card, I think, and gift I got
from a friend so dear to me.
I don’t remember more because
I was smiling in a dream.

And ever after, that simple chain,
with cross and flower upon it,
has special been, and special is,
and special always will be.


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