Country Music Sunday and Other Ties that Bind

Tomorrow is Country Music Sunday. Oh, you’ve never heard of it? Really, it’s a “thing,” at least in my little sliver of the world.

No, you didn’t miss some kind of nation-wide hype about celebrating the country music scene. The weekly observance was designated by our Zack and his group of friends several years ago, when they were young teens, assigning obscure and quirky themes to each day of the week. Well Dressed Wednesday, Polo Shirt Thursday. You get the idea.

I have to admit, Country Music Sunday immediately struck a chord and made me a little proud that Zack (and his brother, too) were starting to enjoy the genre. It caused me to think back to that moment when I began to embrace my own musical heritage. I’m a California girl, but as a child, my parents with the Oklahoma roots perpetually had country music playing on the kitchen radio, in the car, on the record player. It was all Merle, all Johnny, all Willie and all George. All the time. Some of it was okay, but mostly I wished they’d let me take control now and then and blast Casey Kasem’s American Top 40.

One afternoon as I sat at the kitchen bar doing my homework, I did have complete control over the kitchen radio. I was a college freshman, adjusting to the changes in my life (college classes, working part time, generally being a grown up). And I was missing my parents who were on vacation (the first one I could remember that didn’t include ME!)…and they were all the way in England. In that moment of melancholy and loneliness, I changed the radio station from my favorite pop station to my folks’ old country standby. It was a salve to my soul.

That wasn’t the first time I had been moved by music or a song, of course, but this time it was different. This time, it brought me a sense of oneness with my family and our traditions and our heritage…even when my family was far, far away.

Last weekend, Darren and I joined some long-time friends at a musical revue called “Country Roads.” Our friends’ daughter was singing and dancing, and we were there to cheer for her while she and the group performed country songs from past decades and today. It was an evening of story-telling through song and, for me, it was like a walk down Memory Lane as I enjoyed some of my parents’ favorites and some of my own, too. Our friend Beth (18 years old, like Zack) brought back memories of my childhood, plus that same special feeling of connection with family. This time, though, that connection reaches down to MY children, too. A little girl belted out a Hank Williams song, making me remember six-year-old Zack running into the house at dinner time yelling, “Hey, good yookin’, whatcha got cookin’?” Made even cuter since he had a little problem with his “l” sound.

So here I am at another time of transition. This time, it’s Zack that will be adjusting to college life, and his dad and I will have some adjusting, too! The coming months will hold change for this family and that can be exciting and unsettling at the same time. But I do know what tomorrow holds…a bit of it, anyway. Because tomorrow is Country Music Sunday. And whether we are in the same place or hundreds of miles apart, music is just one of the ties that binds our family together.

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