I’ve known the Jolliffs since I married Mauri nearly 25 years ago, though mostly from a distance. So we’re friends, just not close friends. Yet I carry a very close attachment to Brenda in particular, who was an attending nurse in the special care unit at Friendsview Retirement Community during Hazel’s final days. Who could forget one particular time we “kids” sat around her bed, Mauri playing guitar as we sang some old familiar tunes to ease those long hours of waiting? Brenda came in to check on Mom, then lingered to add harmony along with her gentle, sweet spirit to our song. She knew every word to every verse.
When Bill and Brenda’s kids come home for Christmas, they spend a lot of time making music in their living room. For at least several years they’ve offered some of their “living room” music to the local public in a local coffee shop. Its popularity eventually pushed them to find a bigger venue, and North Valley Friends Church gladly opened their doors for this year’s “concert.” Bill was careful to make us attenders aware they were inviting us to sit back and listen in on their living-room jams, that lyrics and chords were notedly spread on the floor. Bill’s work as professor of English at George Fox University defines only part of him. His bluegrass roots go way back, at least as far as his grandmother, and he and Brenda have obviously gifted it to their children. HERE‘s a nice story about Bill.
I raised my arms in front of Mauri’s face to capture our good view.
And then I used his leg to steady my hand for this familiar tune. Jake has gained notoriety for his mandolin playing, turning his dad’s encouragement at age 7 to practice ten minutes a day into a profession. There’s a lesson to be learned there.
I imagine Brenda and Rebecca sing along in the living-room jam sessions. Maybe they hummed quietly from the back row. Much of my personal enjoyment of this “concert” centered around my own blessing to be raised in a musical family and the memories I still carry of standing around our living-room piano and singing the songs of our time.
Somehow I find it irresistible to pull up pieces of my own history as illustration. What can I say?