Sometimes I wish I could go back to it and appreciate it more.
I keep thinking about it this week, about how he was always there on Christmas Eve and this year he won’t be. And it’s not the first Christmas Eve he’ll be missing, but it’ll be the first one he’ll be missing while I’ll be there. And it’s silly, but I just want to hear him play the guitar from that chair in the corner of my grandma’s tiny mobile home again, because I remember it being the one predictable and steady thing. Christmas Eve at the Spain house is a lot of things. It can be a room full of laughter and chatter and affection and good-natured teasing. Two minutes later, it gives way to a swirling mass of politics and religion and small town gossip and highly opinionated people and irrationally loud voices. Needless to say, the whole thing can be a little disorienting.
And then he’d bring out the guitar and the beauty. And everyone else would pull out their instrument, sometimes a mandolin, maybe a banjo, always some more guitars, throw in a little piano for good measure.
He was the guy who taught me that music was peace in time of war. That beauty could bring people together, even people who are more strongly connected to their opinions than most anything else. He never said it with words, he just did it with his life. And he wasn’t an artist type, by any stretch of anyone’s imagination. He was a farmer, a hard worker, a man’s man. Built tall and strong, calloused hands, leathery skin. Flannel shirts, worn out jeans, my grandma’s sparkling blue eyes. Not a politically correct bone in that man’s body. Head strong, opinionated. A Spain man to the core, rough and tumble, fight for what you believe in whether you’re right or wrong, live and die for the people you love.
That man was an artist in an unlikely package. I think about him every time life falls apart and my first instinct is to run to my piano, pick up my guitar, sing it out loud. I think about him every time I remember that music and art and beauty replace chaos with peace, every time.
I miss that man. Not much I wouldn’t give to hear him call me SkinnyMini one more time. But life and death are life and death, and there’s no stopping them. And so when I miss him, when a world without him feels like chaos and brokenness and a puzzle missing some of its pieces, I do what he would have done.
I bring out the guitar and the beauty.