reflections on Family, Fall and Music

As the days grow shorter and leaves turn brilliant colors, our minds travel to the holiday season— a time to gather with family and friends. For us, music has been the glue uniting our family and friends in one accord. It began with my mother, Alice Gram, who was the only one in her family of thirteen to go to college. She became a music teacher. Her father, Anton Berge, sold four cows to send her to Milwaukee State Teachers’ College, currently University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. She would play lullabies on the piano for my sister and me while we drifted off to sleep. My older brother, Bill, has a voice like Frank Sinatra. My memories are filled with mom playing the piano and Bill and his friends gathered around the piano singing the latest musicals. Our home was filled with the warmth of music. The love of music has been handed down through the generations.

Music the great connector

I grew up playing the piano and singing in various choruses at church and school. My three children all played the piano and other instruments. I gave, Deborah, my oldest child, piano lessons. Getting her to practice was like getting a fish to swim in water.  She loved playing and quickly excelled in not only piano but violin. I sat next to her on the piano bench as she was playing a beautiful classical piece. Suddenly, we were interrupted by a loud boom that shook the house. We looked at one another and  said, “Daddy’s Home”. Yes, Larry had pulled into our down-sloped driveway and missed putting it in park, being new to an automatic transmitter. Now the van was on a run away course as it quickly picked up speed. “My first instinct was to try to stop it,” said Larry.  “But I soon realized  tangling with a flying van was not going to make me the winner. I watched helplessly; but fortunately, a newly planted evergreen slowed down the van’s momentum and it clipped the side of our attached garage with a two foot gash in the wall.” Being a builder/carpenter at the time, Larry cleverly turned the gash into a plant holder. It ended up being a life lesson for the family. Turn your lemons into lemonade.

Deb took to the piano like a fish to the water.

Deb and I often laugh about this memory. She is currently a music teacher at Headwaters Academy in Bozeman, Montana, and additionally has 45 various students sitting on her piano bench at her private home studio. I sure hope some hot shot doesn’t crash into the side of her home.

My nephew, Matthew Gram, plays the violin at a Christmas gathering

Enjoy the fall and the coming holiday season. Fill you home with music, the great connector. God has wired us to enjoy music. “Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with timbrel and dancing—-Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” Psalm 150: 3-6

Watch Out! timber

Larry’s volunteerism takes him to a friend whose husband has MS.

Dressed in his lumberjack outfit and sporting a helmet Larry comes to the aid of a wheelchair bound man with MS to cut down a dead tree that rests precariously over another tree and very close to a fence. It has to be cut down strategically. Larry surveys the situation and ties it down .

Our neighbor, his wife and I held our breath while Larry made his slice. The tree was very dry and fell immediately. “Timber” Now they don’t have to worry about it coming down in a storm, and we have more wood for our wood-burning stove.

Larry helps a neighbor by cutting down a tree and now has more wood for the winter.

Over the years, I have volunteered Larry to help our many friends and neighbors because as a former contractor and Industrial Arts teacher, he has developed so many skills. Larry has cut down dead trees in our yard and has the equipment to do it correctly. Plus, he has a heart to help others. He has an acting faith in God, and believes strongly in “Faith without Works is dead.” James 2:14. We remember what it was like to struggle financially. We never forget those who helped us while we were struggling. Another verse we try to live by is the following, “Value others above yourself, not looking to your own interests but to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4.