The music of my life

Some days I wish I was more musical, at least as musical as the rest of the family.

I think the dog wishes the same for himself.

Sensing this, yesterday I let Zack listen to Handel on my i-pod. It was Handel’s Concerti Grossi Op 3.

I held the buds in his big German Shepherd dog ears.

He liked it. I could tell.

This was just outside the music room, a space that doubles as our exercise room, somewhat outside the rest of the house.

So after I gave the dog his musical treat, I went into the little room. Liz’s pink (pink!) guitar leaned against one wall, Jon’s guitar beside it, both beside the electric keyboard that The Children’s Mother faithfully teaches the kids on, including Hannah who will surely also learn to play one of those guitars.

(Our first keyboard was ripped off just before Christmas one year by someone who, I’m guessing, wanted to sell it more than play Silent Night.)

The elliptical exerciser, a heavy and cranky unit that came with us from Yemen, is also in this tiny room where I move and listen to Handel when the dog isn’t using my i-pod.

I’m told as a young child in Berlin I would, in fact, get noticeably happy when Brahms or whoever came on the radio. But, in truth, to actually play my own music, I am not as gifted as say, Liz.

This is why she, my 11-year-old, is now teaching me the guitar and I’m not teaching her.

In either case, I was ellipting and listening to Handel and reading Raymond Carver, a writing hero of mine who I once wrote about from his gravesite on the shores of the Pacific. I was pushing my legs hard, sweating and enjoying it, realizing that without this music I surely would be living a much poorer existence.

And then The Children’s Mother pulled up in the driveway with a muffled tires-on-the-gravel sound, and everyone piled out of the vehicle and I yelled out through that room’s open window “Ah … it’s the music of my life!”

And she is. My wife very much is the music of my life.

And even if I never get my dog to fully appreciate Handel, or if I never personally master the guitar, or even if I never write like Raymond Carver (for words have a certain rhythm to them too), I do, by God’s grace, have this sweet music of my wife.

(My wife, who, on our wedding day, surprised a few hundred people, myself included, when she stood up in her white dress and played a song she’d written just for me. My blood still jumps every time she plays it.)

So then, after I yelled to My Babe, she waved and she came into the room and said the kids, you know, need their keyboard lesson before supper, and not long after I left the room and was on to other things elsewhere.

But it was a moment to remember, to be reminded that Jean does plays sweet music in the life of this entire family and, through our work here in Africa, she plays it in the lives of many others also.

This is also to say that now, March 27 — within a few hours depending on what side of the world you’re on — is another moment to remember.

It’s Jean’s birthday.

In fact, it’s The Big One, the one where, for better or worse,  you look back on your life and take stock and ask yourself questions about what in the world you’ve done, if not who in the world you have become.

Jean has done plenty, some of which I shared from time to time, like during her last birthday.

And she has become much more.

If you want, then, please do wish her a happy and blessed day, a day filled with music, the most satisfying sort that anyone could ever imagine.

You can do so here.

3 Comments

  1. Dorothy Erb, Kitchener,Ontario. March 26, 2015 at 5:27 pm

    Dear Jean,
    Best wishes for a happy birthday. Do take time to enjoy some time just for Jean !

    I am always delighted with Thom’s letters and while I don’t use facebook (what is the name for a person such as I?) this greeting will let you know I am thinking of you and pray that God will give you great joy on your 50th. Thank you for all you are doing to help so many.

    With love,
    Dorothy Erb.

  2. Andrea Elsasser March 30, 2015 at 6:23 pm

    I remember your words to the nurse while delivering our first son, “I don’t need forceps I’m a piano player.” My son plays guitar now too. I am very grateful I had you as a doctor before you headed to Africa and pray regularly for all of you while you’re there. Have a wonderful birthday! God bless your family and the music you play.

  3. Thomas Froese April 1, 2015 at 12:51 pm

    “I don’t need forceps I’m a piano player.” … !! Too funny, Andrea. Thanks for that one. I’ve passed your greetings on to Jean.

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