Music and Memory

When I was small I lived next door to my grandparents. My grandfather had an old, battered acoustic guitar. When I walked out from our kitchen door, I could cross the driveway and into their living-room within about a minute. I searched the house for him and usually found him in the garden watering plants or in his favourite reclining chair in the family room. Wherever he happened to be, upon seeing me he went to his bedroom and retrieved his guitar.  My favourite times where when he played Spanish folk-songs and pasa dobles. I must have made him play “La Paloma” a thousand times. When he sang these songs to me, I could picture his life on a ranch in Mexico before moving to the US sometime in the mid-sixties. My father used to tell me about the times grandpa would have the neighbours come around in the evening playing music late into the night on the ranch-house porch.

My last memory of him was the same as my first. I went to see him a couple of years ago,  just after his 97th birthday. I found him in his favourite chair, I found his guitar and handed it to him and he played “La Paloma” for me. Somehow I knew that would be the last time. He died later that year. I had a video camera with me, so I need to get up the nerve to find the tape and watch it.

This afternoon I was cleaning my office and found a photo of Grandpa holding his guitar. I looked down at my hands and realised my fingernails are a bit on the long side and it made me realise just how long it has been since I picked up my old, battered, second hand acoustic. The nails are getting clipped as soon as I’m done writing this, the guitar is coming out and I’m teaching myself “La Paloma” in memory of grandad.

For those of you know don’t know the song, here’s a link to YouTube

I’m off to go practice. Happy Sunday.

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