I’m doing my schedule post early this week as it is tech week for Fun Home. Add to that, one of the shows is on Wednesday. So, if you want to get straight to the schedule, go ahead and jump to the end of this post.
I missed making the social media schedule post last Wednesday, albeit, a bit intentionally. This post wanted to come out of me, but I wasn’t quite ready to write it yet. I put off writing for a few days until some of the triggers subsided. Frankly, I was still at the stage where I’d see something…and there was never a pattern it what it was…and I would unexpectedly be hit with a swell of emotional content. For example, walking into Sitzprobe two days after grandmother’s funeral, and then seeing a coffin as I turned around to go back out to the car. Yes, I expected it should be there. We have a number that uses it as a prop. No, I didn’t remember that it could be there. I found myself outside, pausing before taking another load of basses into Wonder Bread Studios. The only thing that helped was another musician in the cast has an actual issue with coffins, so that person was put off as well by the unexpected surprise of a coffin in our rehearsal space. I felt normalized, to a degree, watching her jump out of her skin as well. Normally, I’d be the dark-humored sort making some crack about how we should have a sleepover at Wonder Bread Studios, and I would call dibs on the coffin.
When I didn’t make the crack, I realized I was carrying around a tender spot, rendered open two days prior. Most likely while watching the bronze and copper-colored coffin holding my grandmother being taken from the church into a hurst, and then being taken to Doc Hanes’ grave. Doc preceded his wife in death when my mother was only 9. I’m pretty sure the tender spot erupted when my younger cousin, standing in line behind me to leave the church, holding her young son, suddenly began to cry. I used to babysit my younger cousin. Now we were buried against each other sobbing, both reduced to children who now sorely missed their grandma. We straightened at some point, still sobbing, and we took each others hand to walk toward the door of the church.
At lunch the next day, it was seeing pictures of the turn of the century farmhouse that grandmother and her second husband lived at. Another cousin had driven out there to see it on Saturday morning. She lived in Illinois now, and rarely gets to visit the place. She turned her phone around to show the pics she caught that morning, and I felt the tears start to well up, catching me off guard that I would react so strongly. I blinked back tears and hoped my pizza would arrive soon.
Thus has been my week. No schedule post. Watching video of a horse turning around and running into a fire, trying to rescue it’s stablemates from the wildfires in California. (The horse succeeded). Looking at the bouquet of flowers from the funeral reception. Slipping my feet into the practically new pair of dark blue Clarks slippers that my grandmother barely wore. She could have ordered them for me. They look like blue Birkenstocks. They shouldn’t fit. But as her heart slowly failed, and symptoms of other issues compounded, grandmother’s feet and legs swelled, taking her from a shoe size 8 to a size 10. Thus, I don’t cry for her passing…she’s in peace.
I never knew my grandfather, Doc Hanes. As I said earlier, Doc preceded his wife in death in a car wreck when my mother was only 9. Come Saturday morning, a day after we buried grandmother, I actually had my own piece of tangible evidence that he ever lived…a small blue and silver Knights of Columbus letter opener. A small sword with his name engraved on the scabbard. We were looking in grandmother’s storage unit, and I spotted a glimmer of silver, and asked after it…”What’s in the box?” The Clarks came out and..oddly…fit like a glove. The small silver sword was in the same box.
Which brings us to this post. Unexpected tender spots have kept me…cautious…this past week. And working Fun Home has been a gig that has definitely “chosen me”, rather than the other way around. Walking around backstage yesterday felt better…I didn’t jump at the cadaver on the hospital bed. I approached and opened the modified coffin (it’s a real coffin, modified for the show to be used as a prop), wondering what it was like inside. Exploring the living room set on the rotating stage, and marveling how many things were similar to items in that farmhouse.
Fun Home has become part of the processing. The story is essentially different, but there are too many similarities; I grew up in Pennsylvania. My school was a half-hour from Danville. (Read the plot or the graphic novel if you don’t know why this matters.) It made me smile and still does, that I was playing “Come To The Fun Home” at a rehearsal while my Aunt and my mother were meeting with the undertaker.
So I leave you with this, a letter from a family friend, about my grandmother. I had to perform at the funeral, so I never really got a chance to see this until afterwards. I was unpacking on Monday, a day after I got home, and found the letter. It gave me a perspective on this “version” of my grandmother that I never knew. A friend read it and encouraged me to share it. I think you’ll see why…
“My father used to wax philosophical in the parlance of either baseball or card games, and it is a quote from him (re-phrased slightly, to be politically correct, so as not to offend my sister) that applies to this woman who is my choice for the kindest and most unselfishly giving member of our family: “In the end, the most common measure of every woman’s life is how well she played the hand she was dealt.”
I still remember the first time I saw her, dressed to the nines, walking into the original version of the same church from which she’ll be buried, the wife of the doctor who used to treat half the people in South Ambler and say “Pay me something when you can” and come to our school once a year and give all of us physicals. I remember when he died, tragically, in an auto accident, and she went to work for our uncle, which was no mean feat in itself as any of us whoever took a water sample will attest.
They were married, of course, and for her that meant keeping the job, as a business grew, while mothering to two broods of kids and trying to maintain one of the more if-it-falls-there-leave-it-there family/business infrastructures on the planet. It required putting many of her personal interests and most of her own social political beliefs on the back burner for more than half a life-time, which she did with that same well-that’s-what-you’re-supposed-to-do attitude she shared from the get-go with Doc Hanes himself. She gave up the wardrobe that turned every neck on the left side of the church most Sundays in the 50s, but she was that same beautiful, classy woman in spirit, intelligence and attitude right down to the last time I saw her late last year.
\ Above all, she cracked the code from day one with a family that, let’s face it, isn’t exactly a real life sitcom. My mother and my other aunts were thicker than thieves, but with her basic kindness and uncomplaining sense of duty, she made it easy for them to embrace her as one of them. If I had to conjure up 10 reasons my mother when on to enjoy 20+ years of contentment, companionship and good health after my father died, my Aunt Jeanne would be part of at least six of them. It was just who she was.”
With that, let’s bring the focus on the gig that seems to have chosen me, Fun Home.
FUN HOME shows are are on;
Thursday – 11/7, 11/14, 11/21
Friday – 11/8, 11/15, 11/22
Saturday – 11/9, 11/16, 11/23
Sunday – 11/10, 11/17, 11/24
Also, the show has a “Pay What You Can Preview” performance this week on Wednesday, 11/6.
Head to ladybassmusic.com or more info.
Tickets are regularly $25, Students, Senior Citizens, Alumni, Military pay $20, UMW/GCC $10.
NEW BOOKING – with the Ashleigh Chevalier Band! 11/23 at the Colonial Tavern 9 PM to 12:30 AM. Keep eyes on Ashleigh’s page for news on this show. Also, if you are doing the math on this schedule, I will heading out from the 11/23 show of Fun Home ASAP, showing up and pretty much plugging in at the Colonial Tavern. #playbass!
NEW BOOKING – 12/14 – The Spotsylvanians Holiday Concert – 7 pm
NEW BOOKING – 12/15 – The Spotsylvanians Holiday Concert – 2 pm matinee show
AND AS ALWAYS – MANY thanks to all the companies who support me in my endeavors…Spector basses, NS Design, LightWave basses/Willcox Guitars, Warwick amplification, Gizmotron LLC, Lathon Bass Wear, Nordstrand pickups, and Guardian Pro Cables.
Extra big thanks for making it to the end of this post!
#gizmotron #ghs #ghsstrings #spector #spectorbasses #warwickamplification #warwick #nordstrand #nordstrandpickups #nitewalkerbassguitartubepreamps #lathonbasswear #lookgoodplaygood #thinkns #nsdesign #willcoxguitars #lightwavebasses #ladybassmusic