Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Sometimes It's the Little Things

Want to be remembered? Teach a kid something!

Yesterday was Memorial Day. Our family, like so many others, takes the opportunity on this day each year to visit the cemetaries and share some family history. We always leave feeling closer to our passed relatives and to each other.

I never knew most of my grandparents well. One passed before I was born, and two others died when I was young. My maternal grandpa, however, lived until I was a teen. In fact, I was only a little older than my daughter is now. With more memories of him than the other grandparents, it is easy for me to share stories of him with her.

Yesterday I was talking with her about the last time I saw Grandpa. It was at a wedding reception. As usual, he had all the time in the world for his grandkids. We were talking about how fortunate it was for the bride and groom that the weather that day turned out so well because it sure looked like storms in the morning.

Grandpa explained to me that he knew it would likely get better. He told me that the barometer was rising, which generally indicates good weather. If it had been falling he would have expected rain.

That day he taught me a lesson about weather, but over time it became much more.

To this day I pay attention to the barometer when making plans. When I do, I think of him. Sometimes I remember that day, and other times I remember so much more.

It took until yesterday, though, for me to realize how easy it is to be memorable. (It's been over thirty years. I guess I'm a bit slow sometimes.) Grandpa loved us and made it obvious by sharing his time with us. Yet of all the memorable stories and life events he shared with us, it was the teaching moment that stands out. At that wedding he taught me something I would be able to use for the rest of my life. In the process, his teaching now connects me to him.

Thanks, Grandpa. Now I just have to check the weather to feel loved.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Grand Jubilee and New South

As mentioned in a previous blog, my family visited Branson, MO in March. We chose Branson because we wanted a vacation focused on musical entertainment, something we all enjoy. The last show we attended in Branson was Grand Jubilee, featuring quartet New South and comedian Terry Sanders. We had never heard of them before but decided to go, in part because of the reasonable cost. We certainly got our money's worth and much, much more.

You can read reviews of the show other places on the internet. I am impressed by the number of people who say they would go back to see it again. (We are definitely among that number.) It seems everybody has a great time there. In fact, I have yet to find a poor review. This blog, however, is about how they impacted me and my family.

The show itself was a lot of fun. I'm not a big country fan, but I enjoyed every country song they sang. They also included several gospel numbers. I had forgotten how inspiring gospel music can be, and I purchased New South's CD Somebody Must Be Praying For Me before I left. I now play it almost daily. Thanks to them, I also attended an Oak Ridge Boys concert in my home town about a month ago. It was a great night, and I would not have gone if it wasn't for the Grand Jubilee.

Yet as memorable as the music was, it's the attitude of the band and their graciousness later that really stays in my mind. When New South sings with the Grand Jubilee band, you can see them really working together and having a great time. Some groups seem to be about each individual, but this group and the band works as a team. Music is meant to be shared, and this group truly shares with each other and the audience.

The wife of one of the band members, Diana Ponder, also graced the show at times. While I like her singing in general, it was the duets with her husband that stood out the most. I would go one step further and say that it wasn't just because their voices suit each other (which they do, remarkably well) but because they have a great chemistry together. When they sing to each other they appear to really be singing to each other. It's as though the audience is full of their friends, and they are open enough with us to show us how they feel about each other.

After the show we bought a CD and a DVD. Members of New South and Diana Ponder were available for autographs. Diana was the last in line. Fortunately for us, we were the last customers in line. We started to talk with Diana and found her to be incredibly gracious. She had just spent the day preparing for and performing in a show, she had another one to prepare for in a couple of hours, but she stood and talked for quite some time and seemed to enjoy herself.

Here I have to add that Terry Sanders, the comedian, is truly gifted. I expected the humor in this show to be a bit hokey, but Terry kept the audience in stitches. I can understand why he's had a long career in this field. His humor seems so effortless, and he can make you laugh at jokes that others would never be able to pull off.

I mention him here because he was not standing in line to give out autographs. However, when we were talking to Diana, we saw him walk by and mentioned that we'd love his signature, too. She called him over and I couldn't believe his reaction. With all his ability, he seemed surprised and even touched that we wanted his autograph. I'm sure this is not a new experience for him, but I am also sure he wasn't faking his reaction. It just goes to show how some people can be great at what they do and never get conceited about it.

My daughter is a singer and hopes to be a professional one day. She loves music and loves performing, so it would be a good match. This concert showed her a lot about teamwork. More importantly, she learned how much enjoyment a performer can bring by just being willing to hang out with the fans. I hope she remembers this when it is her turn. I am hoping that Diana Ponder and everyone else involved with the show become role models for her.

Grand Jubilee is an example of music at it's best. If you are interested in purchasing New South CDs, they can be found at http://talldarkstranger.net/store.html.