As a boy growing up in Serbia, my father leaned to play guitar from a gypsy, recently released from jail. My grandfather, who was a baker, gave the gypsy bread in exchange for lessons, and over the years my dad became a wonderful guitarist. When my parents met in a college town, they sang 60's and 70's folk songs together, and I wonder sometimes if that common language of music helped them fall in love. She doesn't sing anymore, but she had a beautiful voice. Growing up in Ohio, many nights I would fall asleep to my dad playing guitar downstairs, old Serbian songs, the blues, or songs he wrote, listening to him repeat a single measure over and over again until I fell asleep. For the past 5 years, he and my sister have played music all over Cincinnati; my sister sings and my dad accompanies her. He enjoys every second, his whole body engaging the music while my mom joins in from her corner of the restaurant or bar, smiling and completely engrossed in songs she’s heard a hundred times.
Last week I dreamed my dad was playing guitar, and instead of my sister, it was my mom who was on stage. She was tap dancing with a top hat in her hand. I could physically see the notes peeling off and flying from the guitar like cartoon bees, looping and whirling with dashed lines trailing behind them. As part of the act, my mother caught each one in her hat. It was a sweet scene, but the most beautiful part of all was to see my mother positively beaming. Sometimes in dreams one can physically see things that cannot be seen, like notes, but at times, with some kind of dream-sense, one can “see” things without any physical manifestation at all. All I know is that I saw the very essence of my mother’s deep love for my dad in her smile and in her dance. Her face radiated and beamed with delight.
As my sister moves closer and closer to her own wedding day, I am grateful that she will be taking with her such a happy hope. While thousands of people in my generation feel anxious about marriage, wondering if it ever “works,” both of us know full well it can. As crazy as my parents can be sometimes, another blog for another life, I have never seen any couple laugh as much they do and so throughly enjoy one another’s company. In a go-behind-the-scenes culture where often things are worse than they seem on the outside, behind the doors of my 9416 family life, it is better. Not perfect, but I am learning over and over that St. Paul spoke the truth: “Love covers over a multitude of sins.” And it does. I am extravagantly blessed, and I’m so excited in seven months to invite someone new into our family. I’m glad he plays guitar.