Monday, May 11, 2020

She gave me something to last a lifetime...the gift of music

As I think of all the women who have been mother figures in my life, I am truly astounded by what they have taught me.

My grandma gave me all of her recipes. When I was on my own, she even traveled hours just to spend a weekend teaching me how to cook everything she loved.

Dee Ready has taught me about writing and language. I love that I can call her and ask advice on ANYTHING and she has the perfect answer and knows exactly how to help me.

Maureen, my mother-in-law, is the most accepting woman in the world—so kind and honest. She’s hard-working and loves with her whole heart. I can absolutely see how she got that from her own mother, Alice, who has also been a wonderful example in my life.

Sue, Kristine, Fran, Denise...and so many others have positively impacted my life.

But right now, I’m thinking of my own mother; she is truly exceptional and growing up with her was an adventure. I still remember being quite little, probably a toddler, going with her to practice music. She’s an Italian drummer who used to play in bars until she met God. In fact, she won Miss Carbon County and her talent was wailing on the drums. Those other pansy women probably twirled batons, danced and sang--not my mom!  She even got to meet The Monkees after she claimed her title--and everyone knows that Davy Jones was worth meeting. But that was long before I was born. God and me, well, we must've turned her good because she started playing in church bands, wowing the crowds and God too. I remember falling asleep, using her purse as a pillow, not too far away from her bass drum.  And I have to laugh now, maybe all the wildness left her when I was born and all of it went into me!  Now I'm the one who plays in bars!

Ruby Donathan (now Stilson) around the time she won Miss Carbon County

And somehow, those beats got into my soul. I would dream drum rhythms and music. And at the age of three I knew my instrument would be the fiddle; in fact, I begged my parents for one. I grew up playing, jamming with my mom. She’d teach lessons and sometimes I’d be far in the other room just plucking my fiddle, playing melodies along with the crazy rhythms she taught her students. She'd also practice hard solos like the one from In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.
I loved my mom so much that I studied the songs she did too--and I memorized the solos beat for beat in my own head because even though I played the fiddle and not the drums, somehow I wanted to be just like her.  And I really did find ways to play along.

Later, when I grew up, we went to retreats together where we played music. It was unreal getting to spend all that time with my mom—having sleepovers in the fancy hotel room, playing music and somehow knowing where one another would go without any cues or saying a word. Starting on the beat, stopping simultaneously, totally in sync because she’s my mom, and so much of me comes straight from her.

And now that I’m older, she’s even jammed with the country band (Rough Stock) that I am part of. I can’t explain what it was like the last time. We’d been hired to play for a county fair. My mom stepped up to play "Wipeout" (the Beach Boys' version). She’s gorgeous, like some sort of Jane Fonda who's 70 years old, but looks much younger.  And when she beat those drums into submission, hundreds of spectators cheered.  People stood, kids clapped, wives had to slap husbands and tell them to "stop checking out the drummer."  And the whole time I kept thinking, "That's my mom!  That one! She's mine.  THAT babe on the drums is MY mom."

So, for all the memories, and all the good, I know why my mom and I ended up being so close as I got older.  I sure love you!  Thanks for everything.

My mom is the coolest!

From 9 years ago

I had to jam to Iron Butterfly on Mother's Day.  My mom is in a different state and I can't even fly out to see her because of quarantine.  But here's my jam session anyway.  I hope we can jam in person soon.

 Thank you to Mike and our kids for helping with this.  Y'all are the best :)