Monday 21 November 2016

Fiddle and Piano

After I posted the poem about my grandfather, it started me thinking about the other memories I have of him.

He told great stories - yes.  He played baseball when he was younger, and was good at it. He bowled when he got older, and he threw that bowling bowl like any former pitcher would do - fast and straight. We took him bowling with us a few times when our kids were young; he would have been in his mid-eighties, and he put us all to shame.

After he retired from mining, he taught himself to play the fiddle. He had quite a repertoire, and was continually adding to it.

And I was his mostly-unwilling accompanying pianist. I was taking piano lessons, but they were classical pieces, not Scottish fiddle music. Therefore he taught me simple chords in several keys.

Grandad would come to visit, a couple of times a month. With his fiddle.

After supper, he'd warm up by playing a few tunes on our piano. Then he'd open up the fiddle case and rosin his bow, and nod for me to join him. He'd play for anywhere from a half an hour to over an hour.

I was fourteen.

I did not want to be at his beck and call when he came to visit.

I never refused to play, but I was a reluctant participant.

How I regret my begrudging behavior at age fourteen. And my foot-dragging at fifteen. My eye-rolling at sixteen; I especially regret that. And my wooden, duty-warped performances at seventeen.

By the time I was eighteen, I was away to university. I may have chorded for him at holidays, but I can't remember.

Anyway, I'd give a whole lot to hear him play again - and this time, I'd play willingly alongside him. And I'd put my heart into it, and smile at him.

Here's one of the tunes I remember.

For the record, I danced with my Grandad, too, something similar to the video - but none of us were in kilts, and we sure weren't in a castle.

Only once, but I did. And I truly enjoyed it.


Elephant's Child said...

I think most of us regret our graceless and ungracious younger selves from time to time. I am glad that you have that dance to remember though. Very glad.

dinthebeast said...

I like the sound of Scottish (and Irish) music, and one of my favorite musicians, Richard Thompson, sort of first found fame when his band, Fairport Convention set to reinterpreting the older folk music from over there as electric folk rock music. I can relate to being reluctant to play music other than the sort you currently listen to for fun in front of people, but at least you got to do it, and that's something special.

-Doug in Oakland

Steve Reed said...

Well, it sounds like you were just being a typical teenager! I wouldn't feel too guilty about it. I'm sure your grandfather knew what was going on, and he knew he was making memories with you that you would treasure later.

LL Cool Joe said...

Oh you were an eye-rolling 16 year old were you? :D

It's funny how we can look back and regret that we didn't do something with a bit more good grace, and if we could turn the clock back and only be a bit more gracious. At least you played with your Granddad.

Terry said...

Great story.

Joanne Noragon said...

Oh, the regrets we have.
I had one set of great grandparents; my two grandfathers and one grandmother died before I could know them.

jenny_o said...

You'd think empathy would have kicked in by then, though, wouldn't you? I'm glad for the dance, too.

jenny_o said...

True; and I'm going to check out Richard Thompson. We have quite a few individuals and bands here on the east coat whose roots are traditional Celtic music but they've gone rock or rock-ish, and I really like those.

jenny_o said...

I hadn't really focused on his knowing and doing it anyway. It was pretty plain that I was unhappy, and I figured he was being a bit selfish. That interpretation was not based only on this situation, so I just thought it was correct. But you've just shifted my lens on this one, Steve! Thank you for that.

jenny_o said...

Yes, well, we lived in the country and I had no license or car, so I couldn't very well stomp out :) Besides, my mother (this was my maternal grandfather we're talking about) would've made my life miserable if I refused altogether. Which she should have!

jenny_o said...

Thank you, Terry!

jenny_o said...

I realize I'm lucky to have known three of four grandparents, and one great-grandparent. And lucky to have these memories, however uncomfortable some of them are :)

Martha said...

What a great story! Your granddad sounds like he was wonderful. I think we'd all go back and change some of our teen 'angst' behavior if we could.

jenny_o said...

Thanks, Martha. I think he was wonderful for loving me in spite of myself :)

Thank you for stopping by.