A Passion For Music
That's my grandfather playing the violin in this picture taken almost 60 years ago in Midland, Michigan. I borrowed the photo this past November from the restaurant that had it so I could make a copy to give to my 94-year-old grandmother for Christmas.
Grandpa's Polish bands entertained at weddings, clubs and parties, playing a variety of waltzes, polkas and other dance favorites of the time. His personal library of music, carried in a large leather bag emblazoned with his initials, was passed on to me when he died some ten years ago. Included were orchestral arrangements of musical pieces from the 30s, 40s and 50s. Many songs were notated by hand. Most of the sheet music was rubber stamped with the name of grandpa's band and his home address.
I can still picture him singing a favorite Polish waltz at my sister's wedding, his voice still stirringly resonant at 84. Amateur musicians we were on my father's side of the family. My grandmother played drums for a time. My father blew saxophone in a polka band that always included at least one of my uncles.
The first time my wife Wendy and I went out socially over a quarter century ago, she was among a group of co-workers that I drove to hear my own brother's rock band play some 100 miles away from Ann Arbor. My youngest brother occasionally sat in there, playing his own saxophone. Although not part of a formal band, my sister played cello. When my brother's band would play weddings, I occasionally would sit in for waltzes or polkas with my accordion.
As the next generation of musicians matures, I believe the spirit of grandpa is with them. I am sure his spirit was there when my son Greg serenaded my folks at their 50th wedding anniversary, accompanying himself on the guitar while he sang, "Forever and Ever, Amen." Maybe grandpa was there too when my nephew played Wipe Out on the drums at his own wedding just over a year ago.
We all have past-times, hobbies and interests as we meander through life. When your avocation becomes so much a part of you, then you become identified with it. It can even become your legacy. So it was with grandpa and his music.