Have you ever shed a tear to a Judas Priest song?

I wake up in the morning; the beat is going off in my head.  I drive to work and think I hear the song on the radio, no; it’s still just in my head.  Cooking dinner, there it is again, only this time it’s real, being practiced over and over again. For two months there has been nonstop guitar practice – Living after Midnight.  His concert was coming; he needed to get every strum, every beat, and every rest perfect without even a millisecond of hesitation. He’s only twelve and he’s barely been playing for six months, of course he’s nervous.  I’m his mother, when he’s filled with worry, so am I.  His school work can wait, he hasn’t played in the yard in days, but still he practices.  Here comes the solo.  Ewwww, timing’s a little off.  Who am I to judge?  I couldn’t play a note if my life depended on it.  Try it again, one more time.  Whoa, I think he got it.  He stops cold, dead in his tracks.  The music continues on in the background without him.

“Did you hear that Mom?  I got it!”  He’s beaming from ear to ear, braces glimmering from the sunlight shining through the open window.  The presence of his prominent left dimple let me know that he was going to be okay.  It let me know that I had raised a confident, determined child.  He hadn’t given up; he had given it his all.  He felt that he was a success and that was all that mattered.

Do you think he knows that I will always be his biggest fan?  Does he realize that I will be cheering him on every step of the way, no matter what song he decides to play?

As he walked on stage, I could see a smirk.  He looked out in to the crowd of close to sixty people, never playing for a group so large.  For a split second he went expressionless then the most serious look I had ever seen came across his face.  He didn’t look like my frightened baby with the round cheeks and wide eyes; he looked like a young man who was ready to show the world his true talent.

The music began to play from the gigantic speakers behind him.  Booming, swallowing the room with every note.  Right on cue the gorgeous mahogany flame Jay Turser that he had wanted so desperately hit every note under my son’s command.  I sat breathless, listening to every strum as if I had never heard it played before.  He was phenomenal.  When I finally caught my breath, it was time for the solo.  Looking around the room, I could tell I was not the only person amazed by my son’s talent.  Other musicians were head bobbing, nodding in agreement.  Parents were nudging each other and nodding their approval.  My husband, with that same adorable dimple handed down to my son, was staring in disbelief.  When you ask people to tell you about their greatest accomplishments, they talk about earning advanced degrees, making lots of money, or perhaps completing some fitness feat but my greatest accomplishments are lived through my children.

As a tear streamed down my cheek, I giggled.  I can’t believe I just shed a tear over a Judas Priest song.

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Written in 2007 for a Memoir Writing course.

Silent Lucidity

Our latest adventure took us about 300 miles west to a small venue that let us relive the late 80s/early 90s. A place that gave us the opportunity to be up close and personal with an old favorite – Queensryche.

Like most “Class of 80-something” teenagers, hairbands were a key to life. A staple in our daily music choices. Recently my husband and I began going to see these old favorites any time they come within driving, or sometimes, quick flight distance. We were lucky enough to see Queensryche open for the Scorpions a couple of years ago and it reminded both of us how much we had loved them. When we found out they were going to be in upstate New York, why wouldn’t we jump in the car and go? New York was as close as they were coming and we weren’t going to miss it.

As Silent Lucidity rang out – my all time favorite Queensryche song – I truly listened to the words and finally understood Silent Lucidity. An unspoken clarity.

Ripped right from the lyrics, “Visualize your dream. Record it in the present tense. Put it into a permanent form.” The life of an empty nester…the time in your life when the dream is being lived to the fullest. The time when you can clearly see where you are going and where you have been. There’s a sense of calm and peace – moments of lucidity that come more and more often.

Well worth the 600 mile road trip to acknowledge what we have come to understand – clarity for our future; a future beyond parenthood.

Sorry Garth, I Disagree

I’m not “much too young to feel this damn old“, quite the contrary – I might be too old to feel this damn young!

In just four short days, I am taking a 24 hour road trip – 500 miles roundtrip to be exact – to see my favorite country music singer of all time – Garth Brooks.  Some may say “Are you crazy? Why go all that way?  He’ll come back here one day.”  To them I say “If something sounds like the right thing to do, you do it.”

I have dreamed of seeing Garth perform since belting out “Friends in Low Places” in a bar I wasn’t supposed to be in because I was underage.  I have thought about it every time I play his music.  It was never the right time…kids too little, no extra money for concert tickets, no one to go with me…the list goes on and on.  I will admit, I wasn’t much of a concert-goer in my early days but now, one of the many exciting things about empty nesting is that if something strikes you, you go for it.  There’s no one waiting for me to pick them up, no one waiting for me to tuck them in, no one needs my undivided attention except for me.  The weekends are mine, vacation days are mine, sick days are mine. It’s my time to do the things that I want to do.

In this journey of self-discovery, I have felt younger every day. I have re-discovered or discovered what I love and what makes me happy. Each and every experience in my journey has breathed a new life into me; a refreshing breath.

As lonely as an empty nest can be sometimes, there are so many things to fill your time…all you need to do is look, explore, and take a chance.  Be ready to just get up and go; what do you have to lose?

Music Is What Feelings Sound Like

The leftovers are put away, family and friends are gathering their things to head home, the dishes are drying and as you reflect on the day, it’s obvious you’re thankful for the people in your life but I have to say, I’m most thankful for music.

Music sets my mood, enhances my mood and sometimes even changes my mood. Songs from my playlist, songs on the radio, background music in a store; the words, the tempo, the melody, make me think of specific people. Those people are the most important people in my life, the people who have shaped me in some way. Music makes me think of these people in their own special ways.

Anything from the 70’s – Barry Manilow, Kenny Rogers, Jim Croce, the list goes on and on – reminds me of my Mom. The music always blared as she cleaned the house, cooked, dusted, did laundry…it didn’t matter what the chore was, there was always a playlist to accompany it before playlists even existed.

Eighties hairbands immediately make me think of my best friends and the carefree days of dreaming about the future, always looking out for one another, doing our makeup, and giggling until it was almost dawn.

Country music brings me back to a time in my life when I wasn’t sure which direction I was going. I can still picture the faces of the people that I met along the way and those that influenced my direction when I was so far from home.

Songs from concerts I’ve been to make me smile and reminisce about who I was with and the time we had. Always wishing for that one more song.

Every time I hear anything from the Kidzbop CDs that were stacked in my car, I immediately picture the two most adorable little boys singing along in the backseat.

As I grow older and become more in touch with who I am, music plays an important part in my life. Each and every significant person in my life has their own soundtrack. What’s yours?

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