Friday, February 25, 2011

Oh, Johnny, oh Johnny, how you can love.

One December, long long ago. I was sad. I'd been sad for a very long time. I remember riding in a car. Outside, the world was covered in snow. The sun was setting and Christmas Lights were starting to glow. The air was filled with the smells of warm cozy fires in warm cozy fireplaces. Before I could stop myself, I sang, "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas," and all the passengers in the car exhaled. You see I didn't realize how my sadness had caused my babies to in-effect hold their breath.

To a child, a mother's voice is the most beautiful thing in the world, not because the notes are on pitch -- or the vibrato is just so -- but because it means mother is happy. I've known this for a long time now, and I can even remember thinking something similar as a child. (O.k. it was more like, "I don't know why mom complains about her voice, I like it.")

The nice thing about a blog is that it helps you verbalize those things that maybe you don't remember or that you didn't "put together" right away.

Tuesday night, I came home from work wondering what I was going to do for the rest of the evening. Naji announced that his third grade swap meet was the next day and he needed us (meaning me) to bead him some more bracelets. How exciting, I had something to do. I plugged my external hard drive into my TV and selected some music to listen to while I worked. I fell upon a folder of 150 songs by the Andrew Sisters and figured that would keep me busy for a while.  Many of the songs were tunes I recognized and many were new to me. I didn't get my aha moment, however, until I heard, "Oh, Johnny, Oh." I'd heard that song before, but where?

For those of you who haven't heard the song, the refrain begins, "Oh, Johnny, oh Johnny, how you can love." And that was the part I was very familiar with. Suddenly I remembered my father singing it to my baby brother, Jon, when he was tiny.

You see, I know that the reason my Ol' Lady Band is playing "Jambalaya" is cause my dad liked it. And my whole family knows my dad liked "Have I Told You Lately That I Love You". He used to sing it to my mother. But what I didn't realize is that my Dad sang all the time. You family members that are reading this, remember "Cool Water" -- that was one of his go-to songs as well. Those of you who are not family members, my dad couldn't sing. He acknowledged that he couldn't carry a tune ("in a bucket" was the phrase back then).

But aren't I so very glad that he did sing. I find myself appreciating the very songs that I thought were bleck back then ("Hey Good Looking -- What's You Got Cooking" -- was so much better than asking what's for dinner.)

This Sunday as I was driving home from church, my eldest announced, "We got to sing 'I am Like a Star' in Primary today!" My eldest is 24 and teaches the 8 year olds. "I LOVE that song," she said. I should hope she does. I used to sing her to sleep with it when she was very tiny. When I told her that, we had a good laugh. There is no possible way she could remember that, but somewhere in her hidden memories, it's there.

My dad once told me kids don't get interesting until they're about 6. Isn't it nice that parents are interesting from the get go :)


  1. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your blog! This one put into words things I knew I felt but had never even clarified in my head. I didn't know the song Oh Johnny, but I can see Dad singing it to Jon. What a tender moment!

    This week I had to make a decision whether to remove the third column in our family room or leave it, as it wasn't structural. Ed was incommunicado so I said, "just take it out"! The contractor said, "That's right, because when Momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." Fortunately, when Ed got home he also approved! It made me think a little about the responsibility a mother has to set the mood in her home. It is truly a daunting responsibility.

    I loved your last line about parents being interesting. I think we are! The kids occasionally call us wierd or crazy. It's all the same. We add a little pepper to life!

  2. Tears to my eyes. It's funny how much he sang for a man who really couldn't sing:)

  3. So I hate to be the first voice of decent on this happy saga, but when I was a young mother holding my first baby in my arms and singing sweet lullabies to him, he put his little had across my mouth and said, "Mommy, no sing." There you have it, my sad little "Mommy no sing story."

  4. @Barbara -- Wow, your kids are bad! I read your sad story to my kids and they laughed and laughed. So lest my babies get any uncalled for ideas from their cousins, I explained to them that I only have two gears: Sing or Scream. (They opted for sing.)

  5. I knew from an early age that Dad could not sing, but I always found his 'songs' interesting. My fav was "Mister, Mister Johnny ReBeck how could you be so mean, now all the neighbors cats and dogs will never more be seen." I am not sure I don't remember the words or Dad improvised.

  6. @Verlene -- ooooo bleck. Was that the song that involved someone making sausage in their basement?

  7. Yes, Joan. It was a very sad song, and it's not even in a minor key.