When You Come to the End………

This blog is about a musical instrument – not just any huff and puff wind thing, but the king of instruments, the pipe organ. Now before you think this is about a lot of boring facts and info, bear with me.

I fell in love with this beast back in the 70’s, when most others of my age were a gaga with heavy metal, I was smitten with the majesty, the sonics and shear size of this musical wonder. It was alive, it breathed! Not all have the where with all to master the pipe organ, it not only requires both hands but also both feet. Two prominent artists names that come to mind are Virgil Fox, and E. Power Biggs. But the one that afffected me the most was a showman by the name of Carlo Curley.

Carlo Curley was born in 1952 in the U.S.A., and died prematurely in 2012 in England. He was not your usual keyboard artist. He was indeed an organ master; he added humour and a level of flamboyancy that was not usually associated with the pipe organ. Along with a rather dry wit. In my mind he was the Victor Borge of the pipes. He was the consummate entertainer.

He was the first classical organist to perform at the White House for President Carter. He also played for several European heads of state and toured extensively, always in demand. Because of his unique style, he was nicknamed “The Pavarotti of the Organ”. He was the consummate performer. Always entertaining and having fun with his audience.

My personal experience with this gentleman was at a Toronto concert in 1982 at Roy Thomson Hall where he performed on the newly built Gabriel Kney organ. I was not disappointed.

For over two hours we were wowed by his playing and showmanship as he waded through such classic composers as Saint-Saen, Bach, Handel, Widor, Frank and Messiaen, at times becoming quite vocal and crying out to the audience, “yes” and “yea” after a rather laboured piece. But…. the best part of the evening was yet to happen..

During the concert the organ console and sometimes the pipes were illuminated, but for his encore the stage was darkened and only a soft spot fell across Carlo and the console. His choice of music, When you Come To the End of a perfect Day. And what a perfect selection to close the concert. After thundering his way up to this point, he chose to present this piece as light and airy, the notes just seemed to float out over the audience only to burst in a moment of emotion. All the while he was playing, the spot was slowly dimming and shrinking around him, until all that was left were his hands. As the last notes faded into the night,  so did the spot. For a few seconds there was not a sound to be heard from the audience, as if each one was scared to be the first to applaud and destroy the feeling of the moment. And then it came, and it thundered out in response. There was much dabbing of the eyes, not in sadness, but in a personal experience of joy and contentment and peace. The perfect end to a memorable moment; and that moment got me to thinking about when my final moment is near….

I came into this world with only a few lines of announcement in the newspaper, not on the front page, no trumpets sounding. And as the light fades around me, I think it is only fitting that I depart in the same manner, due to symmetry and other considerations. I will do my kicking and screaming now, not when my stay is nearly over and it is too late. I will pass on the spotlight, hoping only that those closest to me will be able to share in my being part of their lives. Some may applaud,  maybe some will dab an eye. Knowing this gives me a sense of security. I have a plan. The rest is out of my hands.
Security

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Merlin would be Jealous

magically-walking-on-waterI believe in magic. And why not. Magic has been around since the first wand was waved. It was there when I was growing up, and it is still there; and I am still growing. I have aged ever so slightly, but not too old to not be mystified and transformed by words, the world and wisdom.

And I am talking about real magic here; pure, unadulterated, fairy popping , magic! Not illusion – illusion as defined by Webster is something that is false or not real but seems to be true or real. This is magic in it’s most honest sense. Magic that has the power to influence the course of events by employing mysterious forces.

Now let’s bring this along to a personal level. Into my life enters a lady that has worked magic. That has made things happen that science could probably find an answer for, but that would ruin all my fun. Magic has entered my life, and I like it. I have been touched; by her words and her heart, with kindness, caring and honesty. And in other ways. I have been intrigued, excited, my curiosity piqued, my being challenged. But above all, there is a stirring in my soul. I have had a whole new world presented magically to me; it was always there, but I was blind to it. I have been smitten by the power of one….. and love.

Lady of my HeartAfter my divorce,  I became bottled up in my own anger and regret. I felt alienated, and did not want to associate with anybody. But that is not how life works. In time, I welcomed a new person into my life and the magic began. I feel like I have had a spell cast over me; one of love, kindness, patience and understanding.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I was on a journey, misunderstood by some, but it was mine, not theirs to make sense of. This journey is far from over. Oh, that magic, it is still weaving it’s spell.

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Magic

My Three Moms

In keeping with Mother’s Day being just around the corner, I thought I would write about three ladies, whom I grew to admire,  all for different reasons, and who have played a large part in my life.

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My Grandmother, on my Mother’s side was born  in 1893 in Lutes Mountain, New Brunswick. In my very early years, in a small village in Québec, I remember her as a kind and gentle lady. I guess you could describe her as the family matriarch. She pretty much ran the house. She looked after the farm animals, did just about all the cooking and baking, as the others were away at work all day or all week. She was always my ‘at home Mom’ while my Mother was in Montreal working.

She was always there when I “hurt” myself, with a quick fix and a sympathetic hug. But when I misbehaved, she would just scold me and threaten to tell my Mother when she got home, but by then she would forget, or did she really? Our entertainment  was the radio, piano or playing cards. It seemed the only game she new was cribbage, and I was always the elected opponent; and I always lost! When not in the barn, she kept herself busy in the kitchen, either cooking, baking or canning. Is it possible that maybe this is where my love for the magic that comes from the kitchen started?

At that time in my life she was really my first ‘mom’. I suspect she played a bigger role in my life than I was to ever realize. She passed away in 1959 of a heart attack. I regret not getting to know her better as I grew into my later teenage years. Why do these thoughts always seem to come too late? She was a warm, gentle and  caring person. She won me over. I think it was her smile.

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The second lady in my life, and maybe I should have considered her my first, was my Mother. Born in 1917 in Montreal, first of three children. She had a great work ethic, as shown by her grades, her drive and ambition. Her family was not well off as she entered the workforce at the end of the depression, but determination and tenacity paid off.  Divorced very early on in her marriage, due to the fact my Father was running around, she unfortunately developed a very bitter and condemning attitude towards males in general. The telling outcome of this is it also turned her into a overbearing and critical person.

As I matured, and got to understand her better, appreciating her take on life, I got to recognize and maybe feel some of the turmoil my Mom was dealing with.  But that burden did not slow her down. She was a hard worker, no job or task was beneath her. Her drive was to be respected. Despite her bouts of anger and impatience, she still had a softer side. As she moved into her senior years, I could see her mellowing, but just a little bit!

I feel that we became a lot closer  when she had to enter a retirement home, and a lot of the responsibility of looking after her fell to me. It was during this period that I realized just how helpless she had become,  how little could be done about it, and how inadequate  it made me feel.  But never the less, she soldiered on. In her last few years she no longer knew who I was; had to wear diapers, and her food was rendered to mush. Life had brought her full cycle. My visits were very painful. Mercifully, she passed away in her 90th year, battling to the end. Despite the demons that she had to live with, I have to admire her for her strength, determination and a ‘get out of my way I have a job to do with no guff from anybody’ approach. I wonder how much of all that has rubbed off on me.

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The third lady of influence is my mother -in-law. Though her oldest daughter and I are no longer together, I cannot dismiss the impression she has had on me. The daughter of an Irish immigrant, she loved conversation, especially the telling of stories. They were always the highlight of our visits with her. She raised ten children, three girls, seven boys in a small two bedroom house. She was always eager for company.

And what a wonderful sense of humour. Very seldom down, and always wanting to do something during a visit, generally a trip to her favourite restaurant. I am always impressed by her kindness and generosity, and regard to me as if I were one of her sons. Over the years I developed an utmost admiration and respect for this lady. She too endured hardship in her life, but at 92 she harbours no ill feelings towards anyone. Always ready with a smile and a hug. There are a lot of, lets just say, not so great mother-in-laws out there, but I feel that I have been blessed with mine. A true emerald of the Isle.

Three ladies, three stories, three different memories,  all garnering my
Admiration. On May 8th, take the time to honor your Mom, if not in person, then in memory.