The Power of Song
As we travel toward the creek, the familiar rhythmic sway ripples up to me – left, right, left, right. I am sitting on top of a strong, but moving, tower, thinking about the pain that would result if I were to plummet down to the dirt road below me. I grab my grandfather’s ears a little tighter. His deep, clear voice permeates the air, and getting lost in his song, I forget my fear of heights.
Papa was always singing, even when no one was paying attention. He sang church hymns as he followed my grandmother around the kitchen. He sang Van Morrison to my mother because she was his brown-eyed girl. He made up songs about his grandchildren, some funny and some sweet, and sang them to us.
I worry, now that he is gone, that I might forget the things I loved about him – the way his eyes turned up when he laughed, or how his head would drip sweat when he ate anything mildly spicy, or how his strong arms offered security when he wrapped them around me. My grandfather’s voice offered up in song is the one quality that I am sure I will never forget.
After his death, a brutal anger overcame me, forcing me to dwell on things that no one could change. I was mad at Papa for dying, for not being able to fight anymore. I was mad at the doctors for not saving him. I was mad at God for taking him home. It was not an outward anger; I’m not even sure that anyone knew how mad I really was. But my heart was angry.
Going to church became a chore, a weekly responsibility that I was eager to check off of my list. I was sitting in my pew one Sunday, methodically turning the pages of the hymnal to the correct number when the music started. Instantly, I recognized the song – it was one of Papa’s favorites, “Count Your Blessings.” I began singing, tears streaming down my face. I could hear my Papa’s voice. He was still with me, singing to my heart.
That day, Papa was able to teach me one last lesson. It is a lesson that I could have learned a lot sooner if I had paid closer attention to his actions. His lesson is simply this: “Keep a song in your heart, honey.”
I believe that by keeping a song in my heart, I leave no place for the anger, sadness, and jealousy that might otherwise creep in. The melody in my heart pours from me, as it did my grandfather, and I am able to share my happiness with everyone around me.
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