Monday, May 15, 2006

Life, Death, Gigs, & Mothering

In the middle of last week, my father-in-law's best buddy died. He had a massive heart attack and couldn't be saved.

Grandpar is a man whose wife has spent the last twenty years keeping him healthy, keeping his weight and his cholesterol down, trying to avoid an early death, like his father. Grandpar's best friend had already had a heart attack, and his wife was vigorous about keeping him in good shape. But despite her loving care, he's gone.

My dad lost his best friend too this winter. He was a man who believed strongly in all things organic and natural, but cancer took him down. My dad had cancer about twenty years ago.

My mom remarked on how sad it is that after decades of working, finally these people were retired and had time to enjoy life. And now it's just the widow left.

All of this hits rather close to home. Especially for me, whose own husband, my beloved, handsome, funny, genius, overweight and overworked Jethro, is stubborn and doesn't take good enough care of himself.

Which is why I ALMOST freaked out when he announced that he had to go in Saturday morning and do a quick vocal session. I had already made plans to go to the theatre and do some set painting for that little play that I had auditioned for(and didn't get the part). Then Jethro announced that he needed to take the kids with him because he had a gig for them.

Well now, do I have mixed feelings! I approved it, of course. They're gonna get paid for it. Straight into the college fund. But you do know what this means now, don't you? This means that 3/4 of my family are studio rats now. I've lost them all.

The gig was for a Halloween children's record. It's one of those bread-and-butter type gigs that you have to do to pay for groceries. He needed four kids to yell "Ghostbusters!" and then "I ain't fraid a no ghost". He also figured if he needed a kid to sing "Casper the Friendly Ghost" with almost no prep time, our Girl is the one to do it. She has his Freaky Sense of Pitch. The Boy doesn't (sadly he's got my Deficient Sense of Pitch) but he's got good time and a work ethic. He got to sit in the control room and work the talk-back mic. It is now officially, thanks to the boy, called a Backtalk Mic.

When they came home at noon the Girl was glowing. Daddy taught her the parts in the car on the way there, she and the other two kids sang it with the musical director, and then they recorded a few takes. Done. She is now a Professional Musician. After school today we're going to learn how to invoice Daddy's production company so they can get paid. I can't believe this. I mean, as a parent, you want the kids to have a thing they're good at, but damn, now they're in it. They're in it, and now I'll never see them either!

In very few families do the parents tell the kids to make sure they keep their musical chops up to standard, y'know, so they can still get a gig recording jingles or something, just in case that medical career doesn't work out. Gotta have gigs to fall back on...

Grandpar did a beautiful speech for his friend that afternoon. He was funny, but sincere. I cry easily, have I mentioned that? He started his speech in his usual teacherly way; with a statistic. "Twenty percent of all men are good guys. Good guys are not perfect. My friend was a good guy."

Later that evening, while the kids hung around with a sitter, we went to a "Jack & Jill" party for a friend of mine who is getting married in September. She and I met almost twenty years ago at a crappy K-Mart summer job. She was from Glasgow Scotland and nobody else could understand a word she said. We have struggled to keep in touch and hadn't actually seen each other in years. After the hugs we spent five minutes telling each other how much the other one hasn't changed. She's still as gorgeous and fun as ever and I adore her future husband.

Her Best Woman for the wedding is in the military, so the party was held at base. Was it ever weird for us to park in a lot surrounded by barbed wire, and walk in through the security guards. The long beige hallway with its fire doors and display cases reminded us of high school...except our high school had trophies and yearbooks in the cases instead of automatic weapons. Oh, and this place was immaculately spotlessly clean.

Me being Mennonite, I'm always amazed by how foreign anything military feels. Not one of my relatives before me has gone to war. I have no family heirloom medals, no war stories. I don't miss it. It's just not part of my life. I have heard of young people who did some kind of voluntary service to help feed and care for soldiers but I think my relatives just kind of kept on doing what they were doing to keep their children fed. Jethro, being English, has a few stories. His Dad was in the British army for three years. He was in the band. Three years of playing violin and not one shot fired. Grandpar's dad was a Quartermaster in WWII. Again, never saw active service. Jethro's other grandfather was in WWI. He worked with carrier pigeons, sending messages.

And mother's day. We didn't get to see either of our mothers but we called to send our love. My mother-in-law asked lovingly that we not send her a card. Isn't she great? My mom didn't want anything either, just a nice dinner and from my sister, a massage for her achy back.

I wanted the following:
-home made cards
-to not have to remind everybody of everything
-to be appreciated and loved
-family and dog walk.

As a bonus I also got a nap and a bouquet of dandelions.

We had our neighbour and her boys over, since her husband had to be out of town for business, on this weekend of all stupid times. We had four kids around the table and maintained a ZERO SPILLAGE RATE!

For mother's day I made my Mom's apple pie. As you can see, it was tasty. Yes I used a prepared pie shell. Mom said that's okay because life's too short to fart around with pie crust, even if you're Mennonite. I love my mother. And there's my special bouquet.

Even though at one point I was really bummed out because why does nobody think to brush their own teeth, for crying out loud it's the afternoon already and I don't want to think for you people...it was a good day.


Redneck Nerdboy! said...

It's like a nightmare coming true right before your eyes, what with all the studio rats in your family! But you have to admit, it's kinda cute doing the Halloween Album! [laughing]

Hey, Heidi, I had a question. You say that none of your relatives ever saw wartime service, but I was wondering this in general. Did Mennonite youngsters get drafted back in the Vietnam era? Do they have to do that civil service application when they turn 18? Just wondering.

Love ya!

Heidi the Hick said...

I'm hoping the halloween album is decent enough fun that the kids can actually listen to it without gagging!

I don't think the mennonites got drafted for Vietnam. At least in this country there's an agreement with the federal government that any anabaptist faiths won't be forced to join the army. So far, there isn't a draft in Canada at all, it's all voluntary. Our military isn't near the strength of the American though. Not even close.

There's still an emphasis in the Mennonite church in general to do alternative service during the war. Even if we don't believe that war is the best way to solve a conflict, I think most of us are well aware that our North American freedoms did not come easily. After all, most of us came here 200 years ago from Europe so that we wouldn't get drowned on account of not baptizing our infants. So we appreciate our freedom.

Heidi the Hick said...

Most of us. Like I was there. You know what I mean, right???

Notsocranky Yankee said...

I think it's cool that your kids had a gig! I'm not going to tell my daughter because she would be sooooo jealous.

I like your mother's day bouquet. Back when the sun was shining here, my son gave me one just like it! He's a sweety.

BTW, the rocks in our backyard are ledge rocks. We have LOTS of ledge around here, and the ground is often called "bony". (e.g. during excavation: "Ayup, that's wicked bony!")

BadMonkey said...

That's funny about the kids brushing their teeth. I watch our boys, and think How The Hell Did Humans Make It This Far. The boys are 8 and 10. If we were primitive humans, they wouldn't think to run from a charging lion unless you yelled at them like three times. And then, they'd probably stop to cry b/c their bother got some kind of head start or something.

Heidi the Hick said...

Yankee- they fully intend to find ways to let their more popular and wealthy classmates know that they are now Professional Musicians. I told them I hope they don't get beat up at recess, haha!

I think I'm getting near the end of my dandelion bouquet years. I'll just ask for them now!

I really like that phrase: "Ayup, it's wicked bony here" I might try using that in conversations.

Bad Monkey- ALL TRUE.