|We've Only Just Begun
by Marilyn Mackenzie
Funny, as I sat at my desk this morning thoughts of something I'd read recently kept interrupting my thought process. Oh well. I guess that means I should succumb to the urge to write about that which I had read. Sometimes, my thought process evolves better while writing than while merely thinking.
What I read was a suggestion that each of us make a musical CD recording of our lives, 90 minutes of music representing who we are or each stage or phase of our lives. What a concept.
I wonder if there is any music to represent my beginning. Baby Girl Mackenzie was born on April 13, 1952, on Easter Sunday, to two rather pale individuals, of German and Scottish heritage. Shortly after her birth, this chalky white baby with blue eyes and blonde hair, so light that it was barely visible, was placed in the arms of a darker woman with olive skin, dark hair and dark eyes, perhaps of Italian or Spanish heritage. Said woman was not the brightest person, and noticed not that the baby she placed at her breast was not the same one she had cuddled earlier, the one with dark, thick hair and dark eyes. Baby Girl Mackenzie’s mother noticed, though, and screamed loudly, "That’s my baby!" My world could have been a different one if the switch had not been so obvious to my mother. Yes, I wonder if there is a musical score to represent that beginning.
I wonder as well if there is any music to indicate how shy I was as a child, always clinging to my mother’s skirts. Or of how afraid I was of talking to strangers and friends alike, and also feared anything new.
As a preschooler, my mother and I sat in front of the television, daily, as we worked on lessons of drawing and cutting. The projects we made were part of the "Charming Children" program. I remember, barely, some snippets of that time with my mom. But I do remember looking up at her and seeing love in her eyes. That time together while my infant brother was sleeping was our time, and how special it was. As part of our "Charming Children" experience, I got to be on television once. I remember being dressed in a white sweater and red plaid, wool pleated skirt. It was, after all, fall or early winter, and the time for such clothes. But the TV studio lights were so hot that I wished I were dressed in a sun dress, or better still a bathing suit. I wonder if there is any music that can help recall that special time.
Did you know that before Fred Rogers became Mr. Rogers in his PBS show, he worked the puppets for Josie Carey at WQED in Pittsburgh on a show called "The Children's Corner"? I believe it was a national show for only one year. My mother and I can still sing some of the songs that Fred Rogers and Josie Carey sang together on that show. The characters were the same – Daniel Tiger, Henrietta Pussycat. But back then, Mr. Rogers was a behind the scenes person and not out in the spotlight. I wonder if it might be possible to find recordings of the music my mother and I still break out into, while the rest of the family watches us in disbelief? "I give a hoot for you..." Or, "this has been such a day. I was walking on my way. I saw an owl in a tree. He smiled and gave a hoot for me. I found "The Children's Corner."
There are probably some classical pieces and show tunes that I should include in my musical diary to remind me of the time I spent playing the violin. Not only was I in the school orchestra, but in All City Orchestra as well. From 2nd grade to high school, I carried my violin back and forth from home to school, being subjected often to ridicule for my choice of instruments. In 9th grade, our school choir and orchestra performed "My Fair Lady." We were really quite good, performing the entire musical score. Some of those tunes should be a part of my musical diary.
Later, of course, there were plenty of tunes – rock and roll songs – that remind me of my pre-teen and teen years. There are songs that make tears well up in my eyes as I remember a past love and others that remind me of being a part of a church youth group, and I smile. "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and "Hey Jude" were played each time our youth group met.
Still other songs remind me of being a part of our high school choir. How excited we were when our choir director passed out new music and we discovered that it was something on the radio – "Up, Up and Away." (You know – in my beautiful balloon...) We never could make that sound like it should and scrapped the idea of singing it, going back to more traditional school choir songs, and knowing our friends would make fun of us once more. The songs from "Fiddler on the Roof" were part of our repertoire, as were "The Star Spangled Banner" and our school Alma Mater. I still remember all the words to my Alma Mater. Want me to sing it to you?
There are plenty of Christian melodies and hymns that can chronicle my spiritual growth. Some remind me of my grandmother. One with the words, "It was alone the Savior reigned in old Gethsemane, alone He drained the bitter cup and died for you and me" reminds me of the only time I remember my mother and I singing a duet in church. It was Good Friday, and I was a senior in high school.
At age 26, I moved to Houston. Prior to that time, I believed that all country music was the twang-twang kind. How exciting it was to discover the music of Willie Nelson, Kenny Rogers and Crystal Gayle. I even learned to love some of the older country western singers, like Patsy Kline, and songs like "I Go to Pieces" and "Crazy."
As a regional sales manager, I taught my sales associates the importance of helping each other and the customer, even if a sale didn't result. They learned that by thinking of others, sales did result. We started each sales meeting listening to the words "That’s What Friends Are For" by Dionne Warwicke. But, my job also included getting those sales people excited about selling, and when I first heard the tune "Get On Your Feet" by Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine, I knew I had to include that tune in our sales meetings. The song says, "Get on your feet. Get up and take some action." What better words can there be for a group of sales representatives? (I'm betting, though, that they wouldn't include this song in their own musical journals. They did grow weary in hearing it!)
When my son was born, I learned to listen to children’s music again, both secular and Christian. Even today sometimes, my teen son and I break out in song while driving in the car; "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
And what of now? What tune would I choose to end my musical journey? What song might represent where I am at this moment in time? The answer came quickly to me. "We've Only Just Begun."