Family Music

I remember.

I was a child, later an adult. Every holiday we gathered at my aunt’s house, taking in the scent of all the delicious Gramma food in the kitchen: chicken or turkey, kugel, chopped stringbeans, matzoh ball soup, all a beautiful blend of tradition that made me remember the Old Country that I never knew.

My Old Country is the Bronx. That’s all I have. No shtetls, no pogroms, no Holocaust. I only heard of those from my Gramma, and thank goodness I never had to live through them.

And we had music.

I’m the only one out of my parents and brother that plays an instrument, but my aunt was a folk singer. She played guitar, my uncles played guitar, I play guitar. And after dinner we would sit about the living room, old couches with butt imprints, and a coffee table loaded with scented candles and glasses of wine.

And we had music.

We played, each taking turns on the guitar while the rest of us sang harmony. Classic Rock, folk songs, blues, even old standards for my gramma (my favorite of the standards is “Tonight You Belong to Me”). We sang Arlo. We sang the Beatles, Stones, and The King. We sang Hot Tuna. One of my uncles even had a great arrangement for “Allison” by Elvis Costello. We sang. We drank. We were together, and our live soundtrack gave us that special bond that only families have.

We don’t have music anymore.

My aunt has arthritis. My uncle sits downstairs and watches TV. My other uncle lives 3000 miles away. My mom dies 5 years ago. My father lives in Las Vegas. My brother comes to dinner, but leaves as soon as he can. My Gramma, now 100 years old, lives in the Bronx and is homebound.

We don’t have music anymore.

We don’t have family anymore.

We are scattered. We are a familial diaspora. Without our traditions, our lives are as shaky as a guitarist on the roof.

I am looking at my lonely guitar. Every holiday I bring it over, visions of song circles dancing in my head. But we never play.

The music kept us together, and when the music left, so did the family.

Come back Woody, come back Pete. Come back Arlo. Come back Beatles, Ramblin’ Jack, and the Elvises. Come back to us and bring my family with you.

I miss you.

***Sale Alert!!!!***

Psst…Hey…Check out my historical fantasy, The Watchmage of Old New York. It’s only 99 cents for the holiday season, and available in paperback too! Books make great gifts, and ebooks are great (cyber) stocking stuffers.

Watchmage black

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