Little Epistle Old Friends

The other day I took my friend Martin, Martin Guitar in for a tune up, the sort of thing you do with your car every 20,000 miles or so. For Martin this would be, I suppose his 100,000 song tune up.

The guitar builder and repair master met me with a smile. “Well let’s take a look.” He opened up the case, then stepped back with a start, “Wow this is an old one.”

Sixty one years and counting,” I answered. His name is Martin.

“We’ve played in Canada, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, the Caribbean, Mexico, and every state including Hawaii and Alaska. Every state that is but North Dakota. I don’t know why we haven’t been invited there.

“Martin took a hit when we landed on the deck of an aircraft carrier. The tail hook snagged us and we stopped so fast it bulged out our eyeballs, and Martin went flying past my head and crashed into the bulk head of the plane, but he survived.

“He suffered a few cracks in Portland Oregon when the baggage handlers thought it would be a good idea to put him on the bottom of the pile. I wore out the frets and had to have them replaced. The black stuff on the top is charred from my blazing picking speed.” The guitar man didn’t believe the last line.

“Not exactly a museum piece.” He paused. “Or maybe it is.”

“Maybe he and I both are,” I said.

Beauty is in the eye, and the memory of the beholder. I was picking with my cool dude Grandson Stockton a while back. He has a beautiful new guitar. He looked at Martin and said, “I want my guitar to look just like that someday.”

A young man of exceedingly good taste I thought.

“Keep picking,” I counseled.

When my first wife Diane died, and I was blessed to marry Sharon she said, “We have a wonderful marriage except for one thing. We don’t have any memories.”

We took care of that problem in the last thirty years, and she like Martin, only more so, has grown even more beautiful to me with the years.

Guitars, friends, loved ones, good reputations, fine cheese, grandchildren; some things can only be purchased with the currency of time.

Little Epistle, Family Traditions

Hank why do you drink?
Hank, why do roll smoke?
Why must you live out the songs that you wrote?
Stop and think it over,
Try and put yourself in my unique position
if I get stoned and sing all night long, it’s a family tradition!

That’s from a country song by Hank Williams Jr. I know that’s not a real polite way to open today’s post, but it does get your attention, and it even has a point. For that matter, it’s true. Hank Williams Sr. is an icon of early country music. At a relatively young age he passed away in what some said was a country music singer’s dream of his last scene, drunk– in the back of his Cadillac– headed for at gig at the Grand Ole’ Opry.

Wine, women and song aside, let’s talk about family traditions. I’ve heard some people, and I may have even said it myself, “We need to set up some family traditions.”

But we don’t need to. Family traditions set themselves up. Even a baby in the womb can hear the sounds, and even detect the ambiance of the family they’re going to join. Music, sounds, and the tone of conversations deliver to them a message.

Early childhood years can set patterns and attitudes that children may carry for the rest of their lives.

The effects of family traditions can persist for generations even centuries. The Book of Mormon is replete with wars and carnage brought on by what they called, “Traditions of the fathers.”

Whole nations today hate each other ostensibly over whether Ishmael or Isaac’s descendants are the rightful heirs to promises God made to Abraham.

I believe America is in trouble today because of the family traditions we have developed in too many homes, and the salvation of this nation lies in cleansing, and strengthening our families, and turning our homes into sacred space.

And I suggest with all due respect to country music lovers of which I am one, that the Hank Williams song we started this discussion with would not make a good children’s lullaby or a blueprint for family traditions.

Better would be a song like this. “There is beauty all around, when there’s love at home…”

Anxiously Engaged

“… men (and women) should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness” (D&C 58:27-28. So says the Lord in scripture.

Anxiously engaged, that has given me cause to pause and ponder. At first glance, the anxious part could make you feel anxious. It has overtones of being worried, tentative, hesitant, all of which I’m quite sure were not intended in the scripture. Just the opposite.

But then I thought as a child I was anxious for Christmas to come, not worried, just excited. But somehow a stuffed Christmas sock doesn’t do it for me anymore.

Then last night I woke up still mulling the idea in my head. I thought, ‘When have I had such feelings as an adult?

“Aha,” I mumbled in my half sleep. Yes. I do remember when I was so elated that the anticipation tinged everything I did and thought. It was breathtaking anticipation I visualized over and over how much more rich and happy I would be when this came to pass. Great plans unfolded before me.

A little giddy, light headed with a feeling sweet as a love song, and as powerful as The Marine band playing Stars and Stripes Forever. I could hardly believe my good fortune. Sugar and spice, and everything nice. My cup runneth o’er, also my bucket and my barrel.

I wanted to focus all my ambition, hopes, plans, daydreams on this.

I would do everything in my power to make it happen. Sacrifice would be no sacrifice if I could just live this dream forever.

The feeling grew as the fulfillment grew closer and closer. I was totally, unequivocally committed to making this glorious vision come to pass.

In fact this life changing experience has happed to me twice. Once when I was a bachelor, and once when I was a widower.

In short, two times I have been anxiously engaged, and then marvelously married to an angel for eternity.