I fully appreciate my God-given talents. I was born, it would seem, with an ability to write well, something I’ve tried over the years to cultivate and focus. I’m an excellent knitter, decent seamstress, and have a creative eye for decorating. Nothing I’ve turned into a career, nor would I want to do so, but it makes my home a happy place to be.

One thing I cannot do, no way, no how,  is carry a tune. I am one of the tiny percent of people who simply have not an ounce of musical talent. It makes church services a little long sometimes, because I rarely even try to hum along or mouth the words. Yes, I have my favorite hymns, and I do chime in with those, under my breathe. If you start playing “Great is Thy Faithfulness” I will be compelled to pretend I’m singing along with you.

And my cats put up with me around the house. What choice do they have? Each has his or her own song. For Walter, it’s “Walter Kitty, You’re the One” sung to the tune of “Rubber Ducky, You’re the One,” and for Mimi, it is “You are My Sunshine.” I can almost get by with that one, and she knows it’s her song. She’ll sit closer to me and snuggle in.

For the late great Paco, I had a handful of old country classics I’d sing as I held him, and he burrowed into my shoulder and purred as I would murmur, “You Don’t Know Me” so softly, only he could hear it. I think the tune comforted him, as did being held.

Holding baby blueYears ago I got trapped into working in the nursery at my church during the Kid’s Christmas Pageant. As you might imagine, a lot of the parents who normally would have taken on that job had older children, or even nieces, nephews and neighborhood friends, performing as sheep and angels and what have you, so they wanted to be in the service, The church was recruiting those of us old enough to have done our share of babysitting, yet young (or unattached) enough not to be too concerned if we missed the children’s performances, to assist with the wee ones.

As soon as a I entered the nursery, I was handed a screaming eight-month-old. Normally the policy was to retrieve the parents if the crying persisted, but the ladies in charge knew this little guy had an older sister making her stage debut, and felt it was best to wait it out. Powerful lungs, he had, and nothing I did helped.

So I started to sing, barely a whisper, and to my shock, it made a difference. “Your mama don’t dance and your daddy don’t rock-and-roll,” I crooned. “Doo, doo, doo. Your mama don’t dance and your daddy don’t rock-and-roll. But when evening comes around and it’s time to hit the town….” The older ladies gave me odd glances, but I didn’t care.

He still cried, but wouldn’t let anyone else take over. This was a conservative church, the kind where you didn’t advertise you’d ever listened to Loggins & Messina, let alone attended movies like Footloose or Dirty Dancing. I didn’t tell his parents what I’d been singing (my guess now is they wouldn’t have cared), but thiry-plus years later, I wonder, what does that little boy, now a grown man, think of if and when he hears that song?

Does it bring him an odd, unidentifiable kind of comfort? Does he sing it to his own kids for reasons he can’t explain? Or has he completely forgotten everything about that evening and being carried for nearly two hours by a college student who felt helpless against his tears?

Songs are powerful, so is a hug. I pray that eternal life brings with it a greater ability to express myself through music, but in the meantime, I’ll keep writing. And humming just a little…



Image Credits: (Birds on a Wire) courtesy of Pixabay;(Holding Baby Blue) © soapysoft — Fotolia

20 Comments on “Carry a What?

    • Ha ha. How gracious of your husband not to say anything :). My cats surprisingly seem to like it when I sing “their” tunes, but, I do feed them and they are not dumb!

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  1. Walter and Mimi like your crooning and at the end of the day that’s all that matters. It is interesting to wonder if that singing stuck with the now grownup guy. Maybe on a sub-conscious level if not fully invested? I sang in a couple choirs growing up and suppose my voice was OK…but I couldn’t hit all the notes so that wasn’t a logical career choice. I do like my air guitar and singing at the top of my lungs when no one is around however. In my alternate universe I’m a rock star!

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    • You never know what influence a simple moment might have, and this one is likely to remain a mystery. I’d like to think that song is special to him today, but the reality there is far from certain!

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  2. I few years ago at a yearly work conference in Orlando, Kenny Loggins was performing at my hotel. I had a free ticket so went with my trusty camera. Darn if he didn’t throw a guitar pick into the audience and I caught it! I have always liked L&M songs. How cool that the baby liked it, too! It is now how you sound, it is what other people hear.

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  3. For many years I was too sad to sing. Singing is such an amazing outlet. I realize you have a pitch issue, but I also love Loggins and Messina – give your cats a performance and I’ll bet you’ll feel great after. Singing gets a lot better with practice. 🙂

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      • I didn’t sing for 30 years and when I started back again – I was croaking. I do understand if you’re tone deaf. But I signed up with a vocal coach at a public park. My singing journey has definitely been amazing from where I started. I wonder if there are affordable teachers at a public park where you live – if you enjoy it, why not try?

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  4. I laughed a bit. Very few in my family can’t carry a tune. I know of only 2 in my family that can’t and that is my Aunt Lois and my sister Charlotte. They both burn water as well. But, my Aunt can dance like their is no one’s business. She can’t play an instrument or sing but she can dance. She has rhythm. My sister, she can’t even dance. But if my sister wanted to, she can play an instrument well. It is weird how genetics play such an integral part in what we see as talent. My children can dance, play an instrument, and sing if they choose. I think this is a great memory. I bet he doesn’t remember being a baby and all. I did play your video. Joe danced and loved the song. He even tried to sing it. But being a macaw, he also can not sing. You should hear his native singing. I told him to do it only if someone breaks into the house to rob or murder us. That is ear piercing. Keep singing and writing!

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    • My dad’s dad — my paternal grandfather — apparently had a beautiful voice and led the choir at his church for decades. My uncle claims when my grandpa sang “Ave Maria” the nuns would cry (and that’s a tough crowd.) Alas, neither my dad nor I inherited that natural talent. I have no rhythm, either, I have to concentrate REAL HARD to clap in time to music. I end up looking uptight, when in reality I simply prefer to avoid the frustration and embarassment.

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  5. I saw Kenny Loggins a few years ago at Spirit Mountain. I was able to make a decent recording of ‘House at Pooh Corner’ (my favorite) on my cellphone. I think I uploaded it to my Facebook. Great concert.

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