Since my dad died this past April, I found I had no interest in playing my ukulele any more. I didn’t feel like making jewelry, either, or reading; two of my other favorite hobbies. Writing was all that remained. We all have different ways of dealing with life-changing events, and I wrote it off as just POP (Part of the Process).
I just couldn’t bring myself to pick up the uke and play. I felt too bad to let myself enjoy the happiness that playing always brings me. I sort of lost myself and that joy since losing Dad.
However, on Thanksgiving day, the Crankee Yankee and I went up to visit his daughter and her family. I especially wanted to spend time with my two granddaughters, Ava (6 years old), and Juliette (19 months old). While dinner was being prepared, my very welcome job was to keep the girls amused.
After Ava demonstrated her impressive gymnastic skills she learned in school, she asked if I would like to hear her read aloud. Would I! She read beautifully and with barely a word she had to sound out. Then she asked me if I would like to hear her play her ukulele. As she played and sang “Hawaiian Flowers” to me, I realized that I was itching to play as well.
After a wonderful dinner, we all got bundled up to go for a walk. We walked down the hill beside the house, and took in the sights. It was a chilly but beautiful day, and we and the three dogs had a great walk.
At one point Juliette put her hand up to me to hold, and we walked along together. As we walked past one of the dogs’ toilet area, Juliette stopped walking. She looked down, then pointed her finger to the ground, looked up at me and said solemnly “poop.” Then we laughed our heads off.
Back in the house, Juliette went upstairs for a nap, the Crankee Yankee and our son-in-law talked politics, and Ava and I pulled out the Lincoln Logs to build houses. It was a lovely day, and playing with Ava lifted my spirits.
When we got home, put the leftovers away and had a drink, we talked about what a great day it had been. And it was! Somehow I felt lighter, happier, and more hopeful that I’ve felt in a long time.
The next day I took down my ukulele, blew the dust off the case, and opened it. Of course the uke was way out of tune. Once I tuned it up I pulled out my sheet music and began to play. It had been so long since I played that all my finger calluses were gone and I had forgotten most of the chord structures. But I played and sang. I found that I remembered more than I thought I would.
My mind and heart took a tectonic shift, and I am joyful. There always will be ups and downs, but that’s how life is. I feel better than I have been in a long time. And all it took was a little girl and a ukulele.