Saturday, February 9, 2013

Love: Don Williams, Pop, Mi-mommy and Me

"Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.'
Berthold Auerbach

Overwhelmed, exhausted and yearning for the long lost carefree days of my childhood, I sped down the interstate. I turned on the radio, hoping to take a mental break en route to yet another stop on a very busy work day. I was looking for music, but instead I tuned in just in time for a commercial break; the commercial break, it turned out, was just what I needed. It was an advertisement for an upcoming concert with Don Williams at the historic Paramount Theatre and my mind began moving in a direction far from the stresses of the daily grind. I reached into my purse and pulled out my iPod, then put Don Williams on shuffle.

The music of Don Williams always takes me back to another place and time, a world without worry or insecurity or deadlines. Don Williams takes me back to two of the most important people in my life, two people who always made me feel safe, important and fearless.

When I heard Don Williams sing, I found myself in the backseat of a white Mercury Grand Marquis riding along with Pop and Mi-mommy, my maternal grandparents, to eat a catfish lunch and do a little shopping. They played Don Williams to get a rise out of me and I pretended to hate every song to get a rise out of them. As the years went by, I would pretend to hate the music even more and they would become more and more amused at my disdain for Don Williams. I would turn up my nose and they would turn up the music. Spending time out with them involved so much more than listening to country music; I always ended the day feeling like I could do anything in this world because my grandparents told me I could.

I found myself sitting on the carpet at my aunt’s house on Christmas Eve, 1992. I was opening my gifts and I kept eyeing the cassette-sized package from Pop and Mi-mommy. I had been asking for George Strait’s Pure Country album for months and I was pretty sure that underneath that paper was a cassette tape containing the songs from my new favorite movie. I saved it for last and I looked up and saw my grandparents grinning from ear to ear, eagerly waiting for me to open it. I ripped the paper, only to look down and see Don Williams’ face staring back at me. Disappointed, I looked back up at Pop and Mi-mommy and watched their grins become laughter, then looked back down at my “Don Williams” album only to realize they had taped a Don Williams insert over the Pure Country tape. I joined in the laughter, not understanding until much later just how much blessed I was to have grandparents who were vivacious, jovial and so in tune with me.

I found myself dancing in my seat to the familiar intro of “Tulsa Time” and couldn’t help but imagine Pop driving along some highway somewhere across the USA, looking forward to being home with his family. He spent most of his work years as a pipeline welder for Local 798, based in Tulsa, OK. He traveled all over the United States to work the jobs that would best provide for his family, just waiting to set his watch back to Tulsa Time, which also happened to be the time zone in which his entire family resided. He worked very long days in dry deserts, humid coastal areas and even north of the Arctic Circle on the Alaskan Pipeline. He set such a wonderful example of work ethic for all of us and like so many other gifts given to me by my grandparents, it took years for me to realize what an impact it would have on my own life.

I found myself becoming more relaxed, the stress melting away, as I heard the opening lines of “Lord, I Hope This Day is Good.” I thought of the faith of my Mi-mommy, a great example of a Christian wife, mother, grandmother and friend. She trusted in God and His wisdom always seeking to live a life pleasing to Him. In the process, her faithfulness led her children, grandchildren and husband to Christ. Her entire being was wrapped around her faith in God and she spoke easily and freely of spiritual things. She was prayerful about every aspect of life and always asked in faith; her example will always be with me and I know that when I ask God for a good day, He is there to help me through.

By the time I reached my destination, I had listened to more than twenty Don Williams songs. I couldn’t stay in another time and place forever because I had appointments to make and deadlines to meet. I did, however, bring something back with me. I came back to the present feeling important, fearless, confident, upbeat, vivacious, jovial, faithful and ready to work hard. Although my Mi-mommy passed away nearly 4 years ago and my Pop is journeying through the foggy night of Alzheimer’s Disease, the memories I have continue to bless my life. Thank you, Pop. Thank you, Mi-mommy. Thank you, Don Williams.

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