An Autoharp Veteran’s Day

Let’s get one thing out of the way at the start. Today is Veteran’s Day. I am ridiculously proud of my two veteran brothers. My brother Matt was in the Air Force for seven years, including the time of Desert Storm, and his twin Jonathan has been a Marine for most of his adult life. I deeply appreciate all who have been willing to serve and protect our country.

Today is also a day when I remember the years-ago loss of a dear friend. It is also the anniversary of the miscarriage I suffered 22 years ago.

Despite the lingering sadness that I feel on this day, it was a beautiful fall day. We have color now! Leaves are falling! The morning started off warm, but then the wind started blowing and it blew in cool refreshing air and dropped the temperature by at least 20 degrees.

I did school with Jasper and when he didn’t need me I was practicing my autoharp or figuring out chords or trying to print out music to take to my lesson. (My computer and printer are no longer on speaking terms at all.)

Then it was time to leave for my lesson. My teacher lives about 70 miles away, and the drive, which I was afraid would be taxing, is a peaceful and relaxing interlude that I look forward to now. Today I definitely didn’t need to worry about the heat, so I could just cruise through the stunningly beautiful fall countryside and sing out loud whenever I felt like it.

I arrived at my teacher’s beautifully landscaped house and admired all her blooming flowers before knocking at the door and being greeted by her very excited Boston terrier. It was a good lesson. She helped me with the hymns I’m working on for Sunday, and we started working on some Christmas carols. One of the carols I chose was “Mary’s Boy Child.” My teacher was surprised I knew it. “That’s an old Jim Reeves song,” she said. “I didn’t think you’d be familiar with it.” I was forced to tell her that in my mind, it is a Boney M song and I’m pretty jazzed about playing it.

There were a few moments that made all of the last three months worth it. We were playing through one of the Christmas songs. Well, she was playing and I was trying valiantly to keep up and match her tempo and still hit the chords at the right time. By the third verse I mostly had the hang of it and for several bars we were playing in unison and that is one of the things I live for now because it brings me so much joy.

I drove home happy through the lengthening shadows. I guess a part of me was afraid that once I finally got an autoharp, and once I finally started learning to play it, I would lose interest or decide it really wasn’t my thing. This has not happened. I love the autoharp more, not less, than when I started. I love the way it sounds. I love figuring out how to play stuff. (Apparently there are lots of people who can’t do this because they can’t “hear” a melody and play it by ear. I’m so glad that’s not an issue for me.) I love learning new songs and new techniques. I love having an instrument I can sing with. I love being able to accompany the singing at church, even though I’m still not very good at it. And most of all I love the idea that someday I’ll be good enough to play with other musicians because I think that will be heavenly.

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