Melancholic Melodies

I got out of the car to the strains of deep-throated chimes resonating in the breeze. My mind immediately found the file marked “chimes”, then “gazebo”, and raced to another time in this same space.

They were just chimes in the wind. But they reminded me when Karen bought them and the many, many times I listened to the soothing sounds while sitting with her — Karen in her temporary home in her urn — in the gazebo.

These particular chimes were Amish crafted, with deep and rich notes when the breeze plays with the clapper and sail. It was bigger than the other chimes that graced our walkway to the back porch, both dominating yet complementing the others. We could hear it from the gazebo as background music or from our bedroom {we slept with the window open} as white noise.

Of course, buying the chimes was just step one. From Sauders, we had to head to Lowe’s to find that just right hanger. I would have settled for the first pole I saw, but Karen always liked to do things right. The crook had to be big enough to position the chime high enough. And it had to be sturdy to hold the weight of the chime. And it had to be somewhat ornate. And it had to be the right color. Decisions. Decisions. Decisions. Over an hour at Lowe’s looking at crooks that matched her discerning criteria. An hour with her I’ll never get back.

After she died, almost every time I left or came home, the chimes bid me farewell or greeted me. So, the following Spring, I attempted to build her the gazebo she always wanted. Quickly realizing I did not follow in Joseph’s carpentry skills, I purchased one — another Amish creation. It still stands.

I did dig out a serpentine trail from the walkway to the gazebo, using local slate as stepping stones, medium-sized rocks a border, and white stone as filler. Each Christmas I planted a tree around the gazebo {the first year it was a regular spruce that now towers over the gazebo}. I placed a Hallmark commemorative ornament on the boughs. I did that annually until we moved  to Maine.

I purchased an ornate two-seat glider and roughly from April through October, placed her urn on a table so she could enjoy the rose garden she planted — one rose for each of the grandchildren. She could identify each rose — Stacia, Zack, DJ, Anthony, Taylor, etc. After she died, I needed help, so I had the grandkids paint a stone in front of their bush bright red and sign their name in contrasting white.

Each spring, summer, early fall, I would go to the gazebo and sit with her, gently rocking in the glider. I would read my Interpreter’s Bible as my God time in the quiet, then literally talk to her over coffee and perhaps a muffin or toast. It was a routine we shared when she was alive — as often as practical, sharing coffee and breakfast and the daily cartoon and plans for the day and beyond.





I’ve always valued my time with Karen, even more since that fateful day in September, 2008. I wrote my first post — Don’t Flinch — with her by my side in the gazebo back in September, 2012. We continued our “discussions” about retirement and relocation to Maine. We “talked” about the kids and grandkids. We “cried” when new grandbabies and great-grandbabies joined our family tree {at least I did, the fact they would never meet their grandmother in this life weighing on me}.

All those memories flashed before me as I listened to the whispering bells linking the present with the past. This post, for example, is being written from the glider in the gazebo, although Karen is safely tucked in in the car. Most of the Christmas trees are still growing strong. Most of the roses are dormant, their weathered red stones marking their spot.

It’s been a time of reflection on our 40 years together. The blessing is I was blessed!

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story. — Orson Welles

About wisdomfromafather

I'm just an ordinary guy walking along the journey of life.
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3 Responses to Melancholic Melodies

  1. Joe, this is just so lovely.

    This sonnet is for you, with my love and prayers.

    I hear the air upon the chimes,
    I hear the tones as they glide
    through the years, to the times
    when you were by my side.
    I hear the bells upon the breeze,
    and there’s something in my eyes,
    forcing me upon my knees,
    homage to sotto reprise
    echoing like distant gongs
    across the hills of yesteryear,
    companion-piece to the songs
    that in lost days had held no tears,
    and for now, until we meet again,
    this shall be our Remember When.


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