Tag Archives: Music

The Music Man

By: Clare

As August comes,the realization that summer ends comes with it. One by one, older siblings make their way back to their colleges for another school year. This year, all those leaving are heading down to Dallas, either for college, or jobs. The first to leave has been Cale, who started making his way down yesterday.  Cale has been spending his summers, even sometimes Christmas’, with us for almost as long as I can remember, and is more like a brother to me than a cousin. His jokes never fail to make me laugh, and even his laugh makes me laugh. Cale is also our resident musician. There’s been many a summer night when I’ve stayed up late listening to Cale play his guitar and sing a particular song he is obsessed with getting down perfectly at the moment. I love being on the first or second floor and suddenly hearing Cale’s loud singing voice projecting all over the house from the third floor. Even it’s just him coming into Mary’s room and playing the same scales over and over, we still enjoy it.

(No, he is not asleep. This is Cale playing his scales on the floor of Mary’s room. I really don’t remember why he decided to lie down.)

Cale, we will miss you and your music.

 Folks, Elvis has left the building.

Mother’s Day Lullaby

by Kate

This mother’s day, I will put on pearls and a billowing ballgown. I will load my harp into the car and my husband will load me and the baby, and off we will go for my performance at a nursing home High Tea. The white haired elegant elderly women will tell me that I play like an angel and that my curly haired baby is beautiful. They will ask me when I learned to play the harp, and if this is my first baby. They always do.

The answer to these questions is complicated and intertwined.

I first fell in love with the harp when I was 18 and stumbled upon a woman playing a Celtic harp. I was entranced by the quality of the rippling music, and decided I wanted to learn to play the instrument. My parents told me that this was a great idea- and that I should buy one. With nine children on a Catholic journalist/organic farming salary, there was no way they could buy me one. This seemed reasonable to me, and with the first paycheck from my first job I bought a tiny three octave harp and a copy of “Teach Yourself to Play the Folk Harp.” I made various attempts to teach myself to play, but my world was full of siblings and senior year and heading off to college, and the harp became more of a unique decorating piece than anything else.

This changed, along with everything else in my life, when I was 21 years old and became pregnant. I was unmarried, had just left college, between jobs, between houses, completely adrift and at sea in the world. Just before I found out I was pregnant, I had been planning to move to Peru to do volunteer work in an orphanage there. Instead I was contemplating the end of my life as I knew it, and the beginning of the life of my child.

It took three months of praying and fighting and sobbing and writing for me to decide to give my baby up for adoption. As the eldest of nine, I knew that I could be a good mother. What I kept having to face was that I could not be a father. I felt that it was crucially important for my child to have a mother and a father who would love each other and help each other raise their children. The decision was agonizing, but continually resonated with me as the right choice.

I was living in a silent apartment with my Great Aunt in Chicago and had all the time in the world to face my present and my future. It was terrifying. I read endless books, walked the city streets, and slowly fell deeper and deeper in love with my unborn child. I also began to pour myself into learning to play the harp.  I felt that I had so little to give to this child who I loved more each day. Playing every day became my gift for the child and my hope for the future. Slowly, over the course of the months, my fingers stumbled less upon the strings and began to fly.

Brigid Maureen, my first child, was born on May 8th, 2001, a few days before Mother’s Day. The fruit trees were in bloom and the sky was blue and the world was beautiful. On Mother’s Day the adoptive parents came to mass at St. Peter’s on the ridge with my family, and after mass our home was full of roses for all the mothers.

In some ways for me the adoption process was like those big bouquets of roses. Deeply beautiful, vivid, full of thorns. There were hard days and hard years and an incredible depth of pain, but out of the suffering came such incredible beauty. I was broken and I learned a depth of compassion that I could not have learned in any other way. I learned what it really meant to love selflessly, and to put the welfare of another before my own.

Brigid’s adoptive parents, Chris and Michelle, are two of the most incredibly generous, loving, and self-giving people I have ever met. Their love for God, for each other and for their five children (Brigid is the eldest) is incandescent. I have learned so much from them.

I also did learn how to play the harp. While I was pregnant with Brigid, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to keep playing after I gave her up because it would be too sad. Instead, during the months and years that followed, playing the harp was often my greatest joy. These days, the ability to play means that I can help support our family. Last year on April 5th, I gave birth to my second daughter, Olympia Julianna. In the hospital, one of the first calls I received as I held my newborn baby was from a nursing home asking if I could play for them on Mother’s Day. I smiled and thought of Brigid, as I always do. I said yes.

I thought that learning to play the harp would be a gift for my child. In the end, it was a crucially important gift from her to me. Thank you, Brigid Maureen. Happy 10th birthday!

Love, Kate

More posts about adoption:

Enough

September in the Orchard

Adoption Interview Project 2011

A Different Place

A Transfiguration of Sorts

Colleen

It was a blustery and cold morning, not unusual for early spring in Wisconsin. The rain fell fast and hard, aided by a strong wind upon the ridge-top, and the skies were an iron gray, creating a dark and drear atmosphere. So much rain and so much wind must have been the main factor behind the sudden power outage. At one moment I was looking up the price of airline tickets to Oklahoma and the next poof! A blank screen. I was not disturbed. Everything I really needed was in working order, namely the trusty wood stove that kicked out its comforting heat steadily.

The only problem this did present was across the road. Of course, today being Sunday, the family would be heading out to mass at the dusky, rose-red brick Catholic church right across the road from our home. I was interested to observe a mass sans electricity.

When I walked into the front doors of church, the romantic in me was immediately pleased. Candles were being lit, adorning the altar mainly and casting a mellow glow over the smooth caramel walls. I walked up the two flights stairs to the choir loft to perform my job. I’m then one and only organist for St. Peter’s Parish The power outage had made it impossible for me to play the electric organ we have, so I was relegated to the piano for the morning. This made me very happy because I am a pianist and refuse to play the organ properly on a normal Sunday. The foot pedals are always turned off, and I’ve never attempted to try to learn how to use any of the controls but on, off, loud, and soft. The old people in the parish adore me for playing the organ (I guess you were right, Mom), and I smile and nod and pretend I like it just as much as they.

I played the piano by candle light, spilling weakly over my music, and enjoyed the special air the darkness outside, counteracted by amber candle glow inside, created. The gospel was on the Transfiguration of Jesus today, and I thought it especially relevant. We were given our own transfiguration of the church today.

Darkness and light, the battle ever rages, even within the church. But, the light always triumphs: the electricity flicked on without fanfare in the middle of the Sanctus.