My Son Plays Guitar
Updated: Aug 18
My son is a musician, and plays guitar. He is also in a band. A really good band, and I’m saying that with no bias whatsoever. <wink, wink>. Tonight I'm watching him and the band play at a local venue. Less than halfway through the show, I was suddenly fighting tears, as I was transported back in time, so quickly.
I came to watch the show with my group of friends. My friends are actually my son’s girlfriend's family, and we go to almost every show. Afterall, she is in the band and is one of the lead guitar players. Right now they have scattered a little as they make their way around the room. There was laughing, eating and drinking…all to the rhythm of the guitars.
I happen to be sitting alone at the moment, and I’m caught in my thoughts. I’m watching each breath the Lead Singer takes, watching the Bass Player strut to the beat of the Drums, and see how the 2 Lead Guitar Players writhe with each note and chord they play. I recall the silence of the room when they were loading in, and how 5 of the nicest people in the world transformed the silence into this writhing ecstasy. It’s almost magic how they can do that!
As I watch my son play his guitar solo while lost in his own world of music, suddenly he transforms into another person. Suddenly, I’m in Kissimmee, Florida, in 1994.
Photo Credit: Bain Testa
My Son, performing live
I’m in a 3 bedroom apartment, freezing cold by the blasting Air Conditioner. I see the old console TV from the 80’s sitting in the corner. I see an old love seat, that when you lift the cushions all you see is milk crates with sofa cushions on top. Next to it is an old sofa that reminds me of a peacock…80’s “sofa-suede” with blue and violet print on it with a blanket thrown across the back for me when I visit. If you look to the left, in the dining room, you can see a huge aquarium that houses an Oscar fish that gets fed cat food. If you turn on a black light in the living room, you can see designs on the white walls, there are cat footprints on the carpet, writing on the wall, and a spider web on the ceiling...all invisible to the naked eye. I bet you didn’t know if you use Woolite on the walls, it will be near invisible in natural light, but glows under black light.
Suddenly I’m standing just inside the doorway in this 2nd floor apartment, freezing inside and away from the 95+ degree heat and humidity that is outside. An Eskimo would freeze in this place!
I see my 2 friends sitting on their worn sofa with a couple Budweiser’s on the coffee table and a couple more that I feel pretty sure were from last night. I’m not sure how I came into meeting these 2 guys, but somehow they “fit” and it seems I’ve known them my entire life. They are cousins, and one is an incredibly talented musician and guitar player, the other one simply enjoys life in the fullest. Jimmy is strumming Joe’s electric guitar and beaming with pride while playing his freshly learned song, “Breakin’ the Law”, by Judas Priest. Joe sheepishly smiles, and seems pleased to have taught Jimmy a song and almost regretting it since Jimmy won’t stop playing it. Just like it was yesterday, I see Joe asking for his BC Rich, Mockingbird guitar back and he LAYS into a vicious guitar solo.
A feel small smile comes across my face at that memory, and my eyes well with tears...
Deep down, Joe seems an introvert. His best friend and cousin, Jimmy is not. Jimmy loves his Doo-Wap music, Joe loves his guitar. But both LOVE rock music! I enjoy Joe because he is quiet and comfortable to be around. He appears to always try and find a way to become invisible in a large crowd. I later learn this is only one aspect of his "complex personality".
Joe works so hard to impress me in hopes I’ll go out with him. I laugh to myself, knowing there really isn’t any way that is going to happen. He tries to use his charm to impress me and say the right things, but I always see right through it. Honestly, he’s pretty cheesy. But, he is persistent and most would have thrown in the towel long ago. But as time went by, I let slowly let my guard down, and he stops trying so hard to impress me. And the broken heart I was experiencing at the time slowly subsides.
Memories…funny things. So random, too.
It must be the wailing guitar up on stage that stirred up that memory. Suddenly I wipe a tear from the corner my eye, and I hope my friends scattered around the room didn’t notice. The lead singer gives me a nod, knowing I come to see him, the rest of the band, and My Son at every available opportunity. Sam, the Lead Singer, knows I hang on to each breath he makes, and every note my son plays…and I yell the loudest for each song. I’m a PROUD MOM!
At 56, I’m one lucky lady, and a long ways from where I was in 1994! I used to have the “IT Factor”, by now most of “IT” got old. Sure, there may be bits and pieces of “IT” left, but by now, I thoroughly enjoy being Mom and watch my only child play on stage. I sit on my little stool sipping a little glass of red wine.
Merlot...it's my favorite. Wine and music… perfection.
My son goes into a new solo, and when I close my eyes and sip my small glass…I’m transported again. I hear Joe intensely play out his fanatical emotions on his guitar. Joe looks at me square in the eyes, puts it down, and we start talking and my world clicks.
I’ve changed since then.
I'm a Mom now, and the person I am today came alive when they placed my baby boy in my arms. I remember my first words to him as they placed him in my arms immediately after he was born. These words are important, and his first introduction to this new world.
Ready to hear what they were?
I look down at my brand new freshly delivered son, see his nose crinkled up to cry, and say the words…“Don’t cry. I don’t know what to do.”
My son immediately stopped crying, slowly turned his head to me…eyes as wide as saucers. All he needed to hear was my voice. While I had no clue what my role as Mom would bring next, I knew after this moment things were going to be OK.
Close to 3 decades later, here I sit watching my son play on stage with his band, Feverslip. I’m sitting here wondering how in the world my journey got me from "there" to "here".
I go back to my thoughts. All the feelings, and all of the old hang-out spots…Perkins, Pizzeria Uno’s, The Cantina, The Images Apartments, Baja Beach Club, and Walt Disney World… like a warm hug, and it all embraces me. I see it all so incredibly clear. Tears fill my eyes, and the memories fall down my cheeks.
I force myself to remember a phone call I received years ago. And I remember.
Joe and Jimmy both died...young and unexpected. It seems so long ago. No one in my current life knew either of them, no one knew how Joe and I seemed to click. No one knew the priceless words Jimmy spoke to me. My life had once changed on a dime when I had met them, and now the dime vanished. I come back to the now, with an old plate of soggy nachos to my right. I hear people laughing, glasses clinking, drums beating..., and I see my son on stage. He is my answer to prayers spoken and unspoken, and proof that God is real. I see my son grooving to the music, writhing to the beat, wailing out an amazing guitar solo.
As time has passed, I'm ashamed to admit I almost forgot what Joe looked like, how he played guitar, and how he moved. I forget the look on his face, I forget his facial expressions. I forget his soft demeanor, his innocence, and his occasional vulnerability. I forget his street smarts, the color of his eyes, and how he carried himself when he wore his beloved leather jacket, and how he tried so hard to be the guy he thought I wanted and needed.
But I see it all in my son. I see bits and pieces of the best parts of Joe in him. He’d be proud of the guitar player his son turned out to be.
Life is funny. I’m sitting here by myself listening to the band play on a Southern Maine Saturday night. My son's well-worn and equally beloved leather jacket laid aside for later...not wearing it on stage tonight. I hear Sam belting out the best part of the song’s chorus, watch the drummer toss up the drumsticks and catch them to the rhythm of the song.
My friends scattered across the room like social butterflies, and I'm lost in my thoughts while sipping my wine. All the years that have passed, all the things I barely remember…I see living right in front of me. My son has no idea, and yes, there is a long story that remains to be told by him one day if he chooses. But it’s also mine, too.
Those pieces of his father that live in my son? My son doesn’t know, recognize, or even understand those pieces - but I do. Those pieces are so different than I am. I knew Joe, and I also loved Joe. But the 2 of them never had the chance to meet.
There is a lot I don’t understand. There are so many twists and turns not mentioned here. How I made it through all that, I will never know.
I'm right here, right now. The best parts of my life... the past, the present, and even the future…are standing here in front of me. He is busting out the best guitar solo ever, fulfilling a prophecy he isn’t even fully aware of yet. I wonder how in the world I was worthy enough to raise such an amazing child/young man...
I don’t understand the path, the reasons, or the methods…but I know God is AMAZING! Even if I don't understand.
My son is a talented musician and plays guitar. Just like someone else I once knew…