My Best Friend

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“How do I know if she’s the one”, he asked?  I replied earnestly, “Can you imagine a day without her?”  An interaction I’ve had with several people over the years.  My “can you imagine” question was created basically as a way to change my typical “you just do” answer.  The latter always seemed to precipitate a groan from the person.  But it is so true.  I can’t explain it.  That night over 16 years ago when I first saw her was unlike anything I ever experienced.  It was very different.  I just knew.  Even then I couldn’t imagine a day with her.  And tomorrow after celebrating 16 years of marriage I still can’t imagine it.

Because we both follow our hearts and do what we love to do, we spend several months a year away from each other.  But honestly, that’s only our physicalness (I know that’s not a word).  She’s always with me.  And I’m always with her.  There’s a support system in place that supersedes everything else.  We’re each other’s best friend and that is important.  When we do get that chance to spend time together, it’s even more special.  And honestly, it’s just being her presence that fills my spirit.

My best friend just came to spend some time with me and, as always, we had a wonderful time together.  That beautiful, familiar face smiled at me and that non-spoken connection flourished.  And it is a connection.  When we met, and we married 4 months later, many naysayers balked.  So in response I wrote a song.  And the chorus still rings true.

“Do what you do.  Not, what “they” say

Stop looking for love, it’ll come your way

Like a powerful storm, without warning it strikes

Filling your heart with its glorious might.”

My best friend and I even wrote a song together.  We’d both been married before and this time, the 2nd time, it would be the one.  The lyrics were a road map…

“This story is true, yet it hasn’t begun

It’s a great way to live and hell it sounds like fun

We’re gonna’ follow its lines and learn all the words

So it’s right the second time so there isn’t a third.”

“How do you know?”  The hell with it, I’m going back to, “you just do.”  To my best friend, lover and wife…I wish you happy anniversary.  And I’m so looking forward to the next 16 years.


Family Legend

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Are we predisposed to behave in a particular way?  Since beginning my genealogical journey many years ago that question has arisen many times.  In part because so many of my ancestors were vagabonds.  They were individuals who traveled from place to place without ever planting their roots too long in one place.  I’m like that too.  And unlike a lot of genealogists, I was satisfied to just trace my surname and my mother’s maiden name, I wanted to trace all the surnames of my maternal and paternal grandparents going back as far as I could.  And the book I’m writing on the matter is a work still in progress.  Here’s a little snippet:

“I just couldn’t do it.  I spend hours each week scanning documents online searching for records of our ancestors and I watch what other amateur genealogists do.  If their father’s name was say Miller, they take that name and trace it backwards as far as they can go.  They also take every single Miller branch and see where “it” goes.  And when I took over the family genealogy I just couldn’t spend all that time on one name or line as it’s called.  I wanted to find information about all our ‘direct’ ancestors.  By ‘direct’ I simply mean all of our grandfathers and grandmothers.  Besides, others in my family had already done a lot of research on my Mom’s maiden name Hampton.  It’s one of our lines that has been checked, verified and proven for the most part.  And my mom’s mom, my grandmother, her maiden name was Gensil.  Now there was a line that hadn’t been researched too far back.  No, wait, yes it had.  Another family historian had done a lot of research and sent it to me.  O.K., I can certainly look at this new data and go about checking, verifying and proving as much of it as I can.  Well thanks to a distant relative and my own research, that’s been done too.  That’s one of the reasons I’ve chosen to do our genealogy as I have….I do believe it’s important to know where we come from.  If it’s true that you and I are genetically predisposed to act a certain way, then perhaps their lives can add some insight into our own”

There’s one ancestor in particular that I found incredibly interesting.  His name is Hans Hansen Bergen and he’s my 9th Great Grandfather.  He was one of the earliest settlers on what is now New York City, then called New Amsterdam.  There’s a wonderful family legend about him that was shared in the history book, “The Bergen Family” by Teunis Bergen, published in 1876.  It says:

“There’s a tradition in the family, which probably may have some foundation, that Hansen while engaged in the cultivation of his plantation, was chased by the Indians, when for safety he took refuge in a tree, where they soon discovered him.  Supposing his end to be near, he commenced singing in a melodious voice, with which he was blessed, the hymn with commences with “In mijn grootste nood o’ Heere.” (In my greatest need O Lord).  His singing so charmed is pursuers, that after listening for some time in delight, they left him unmolested and free to go on his way rejoicing; thus proving the words of Congreve in the play “The Mourning Bride”, “Music hath charms to soothe the savage beast.”  

I love that quote from the book.  Perhaps I carry some of my 9th Great Grandfathers musical genes which may be why I sing and love music?  There are other examples too where I see myself in my ancestors.  Or to be more accurate, I see them in me.  I encourage you to take some time and delve in to your family history.  It just might shine some light on who you are too!

Making Music

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It doesn’t happen very often.  Not that I’m complaining because I love performing, but having two days off this time was more special because I was able to spend time with my family.  I don’t have the opportunity to spend to many holidays with them, so this was a true treat.

I love my nieces and nephews.  And yes, I’m even old enough to have great nieces and nephews!  Since my oldest sister is so much older than me I was an uncle at the ripe old age of 9.  And now, at 47 my oldest nephew is 38.  He’s more like a brother to me than a nephew.  He and his wife have been married the same amount of years as my wife and I.  And it’s always fun to spend time with them.  They have three wonderful children who I adore!  I hadn’t seem them in a little over two years and my goodness how they’ve grown!  Not only do they look older but they’re definitely acting a little older too!  The grow up so fast!  I had a great time with my sisters too, but one thing in particular was the highlight of my vacation days.

My 8-year old great niece Kendall has been bugging her dad to learn how to play guitar.  And since I took my axe with me, I figured it was important for me to play it for her.  She was enthralled by it.  So, I put my guitar on her lap and we started her first lesson.  What a thrill it was to see her little mind working out the rhythms I tried to teach her.  The typical down, down, up, up, down, up folk strum seemed daunting at first but within 15 minutes she had it.  She even held her hands properly!  I was floored.  As she was seated on a stool in front of me, she continued to strum the guitar.  She wasn’t playing chords of course, but I decided to play chords as she was strumming away.  And we made some great music!  Her mom came over and was amazed at how quickly she picked up the strumming.  It filled my heart with such joy!  Shortly afterward, her Dad and I were on the internet looking at guitars for her.  Within minutes of teaching her I knew she was a natural.  It reminded me of teaching my step-son Christopher four chords when he was young and he took to it just the same way.  I can’t wait to see how she progresses.  I know she’ll be great!

Man, I love music.  Even more, I love making music.  And when that can be shared with others it’s a beautiful thing.  My whole mini-vacation was filled with music.  Whether it was listening to Boston and Styx as Easter dinner was being prepared or singing songs with my sisters in the car music filled the air.  And now it looks like another family member will be making music too!  I’m proud of all my family and especially my great niece Kendall Jo.  Heck, before long she’ll be better at the guitar than I am!  And I’m looking forward to that happening!