Wednesday, April 14, 2010


By ned * Other ned Posts
The song Taps has always struck me as too familiar.  Like Happy Birthday or the Jeopardy theme song, whatever delectable musical feast is behind it has been beaten to common mush. Overplayed in culture, when I hear the familiar melody I glaze over. Change my focus. Review tasks. Scan the crowd. Until it passes.  Perhaps with the exception of one time about a month ago.   

Given my grandfathers rank at the end of World War II, we could have had a gun salute if we wanted.  My family declined given how that might appear in the courtyard of a church closely woven into a suburban fabric.  We opted instead for an honor guard to ceremoniously fold the flag of a nation my grandfather cherished.  Opted to honor him with a lone trumpeter playing Taps.  Somehow that was fitting for a man rich in character but unencumbered by extravagance. 

As the trumpeter played, the richness of his tone matched the richness of color on his brass instrument as the sun bounced off the metal into the chapel.  The light highlighted something for me.  On display in Ohio in early March was an event that Northern California - for all its splendor - can never have.  I came to Ohio after one of the dreariest February's.  Central Ohio had more snow in February 2010 than in any other February in recorded history.

Yet, somehow, on the day of my short-notice flight home, the sun shone and never let up while I was there.  The contrast of seasonal change was startling.  Daffodils burst from the ground next to patches of melting snow. 

I always associated my grandfather with the spring.  His birthday is today, April 14th.  These new beginnings of spring give you bounce in your step and license to shed one layer of clothing with smug pride.  My grandfather did so at that opportunity and always enriched himself with the outdoors.  It is more than fitting too that Easter is the holiday of the spring.  The revolution of the climate during the season reminds us that change beyond what we immediately experience in the starkness of winter is possible.  By embracing spring, we better understand the limits observation alone can reveal to us.

The song Taps for my grandfather highlighted another contrast.  It is a surreal experience to be with someone as they take their last breath.  In embracing his passing, I came to a better understanding of life.  Its richness and wonder.  Even in the most common things. Common Songs. Common changes of the seasons. 

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