Do you remember a volunteer from your grade school years that really struck a chord with you? For a lot of my friends growing up, that person was my Granddaddy. And I do mean he “struck a chord” with them quite literally. For years, he spent every school day in the band room at my high school, helping students like me find a love of music. Probably much to his chagrin, I was more interested in being in the choir. But, I think he was happy that I found something I loved just as much.
Granddaddy Joe was everybody’s granddaddy. He loved those students like they were his own. Sure, I had to sneak around sometimes so Granddaddy wouldn’t see whatever drama I was getting into that day. But, it also wasn’t much because, well, can you imagine if Granddaddy found out? And he would! “Whatever you’re big enough to do,” he would say with a wink.
With Grandma Josie by his side every step of the way, he organized a community band that played with him until he passed away this year. They are still playing strong after 30 years! He also served in the United States Air Force for a full career before working a second career when he retired. Then, as if that wasn’t enough, he went on to graduate college in his sixties. Granddaddy was, and is, an inspiration.
And the best part? I bet every community has someone like Granddaddy Joe.
His passing was very hard on our family. Loving and losing someone is not easy. For me, retelling a part of his story has been healing, although I still cry thinking about losing him.. a lot. That’s okay. His memory reminds me that we should always choose love. He was a very devout Christian and maybe didn’t hold all of the same beliefs as my peers and I. But he always loved. Everyone got a hug if they wanted one, or a Good Job.
It is that love, and his love for music, that I hope to convey in my first children’s book, The Music Man. It is a fun-loving, shorter version of his path to creating a community-wide band with a visual, or literary, tour of several instruments he played for years. I really felt like he would want one more chance to share his love of music with youth. Some of the instruments he played, like the tuba or trombone, can be intimidating to kids. They are just so big and the sounds can be just as big as the instruments themselves! I hope kids and schools can use this book as another way to introduce a joy of music that lasts for years.