SOUR GRAPES: A little music

Jamming with cousin Jerry in Johnston. Note the John Deere colors.

By Jim Magdefrau

Sometimes just whistling or humming a tune can help. It takes my mind off of whatever is happening around me and reduces a bit of the stress. Sometimes it even helps others.

It was about a month ago I was asked to pick out a few tunes at the care center in Johnston for my cousin Jerry, who was a few years younger than me. Jerry sang along to the Eagles. He gave a hard “no” to polka music, but relented. We thew in some Beatles and country songs. It was a good birthday party.

Three weeks later, we were at his funeral. Jerry chose the hymns. No surprise. There were no polka songs. But it was a nice sendoff for Jerry, as he was buried close to home in a plot on the family farm. He was home.

It was on the way up there that we were lucky enough to come across a tractorcade. This was something Jerry enjoyed participating in, with his father, Ivan. All felt that it was a sign from Jerry.

Music came in handy a few weeks later. I was in a small waiting room in Cedar Rapids, waiting to get some things checked out. Let me point out all is well, so no need to get worried. In the same small room there was an older gentleman, who eyed me then said, “Nice shirt.” It was one of the tie dyed Grateful Dead shirts I have in my rotation. I nodded and said I liked his Grateful Dead mask. We talked about the music, and how his son followed them all over the country. He wanted two songs from “American Beauty” played at his funeral.

So I figured, what the heck? It’s just us. So I punched up a few early ‘70s Dead tunes on my phone. I could detect a grin from under the mask as he nodded his head to “Uncle John’s Band.” My name was called after a few tunes, and he made a point to wish me well by name as I headed down the hall. He was still in the hall when I left, with a grin.

What a long strange trip it’s been. Music helps that journey, I hope.

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