I was out of the country for 30 days, and so much changed while I was gone that I sometimes wonder what country I returned to.  I'm grateful for days like today, for small towns like Geneva, Florida, and for people like the members of the Greater Geneval Grande Award Marching Band (GGGAMB), which assembles once a year for the town's Independence Day parade.  I am so sick of (and sickened by) the strident, angry voices that exacerbate and exaggerate our differences, and refuse to see the humanity of anyone who disagrees.  But this is the America I know and love:  where diversity enriches rather than divides, and our widely differing political and social views in no way hinder our friendship, our celebration, or our working together in common cause.

On a different note, I'm grateful to our friend Greg D., who taught me that neither the band nor the celebration should be the focus of our performance, but the audience:  the people—the individual men, women, and children—who have come to hear us.  From him I learned to interact with the crowd as we march along:  to break ranks, claiming exhaustion, and invite children in the crowd to help me out by crashing my cymbals together.

(Note:  I prefer to be an equal-opportunity entertainer, but wise discrimination is important:  I don't want to scare anyone, but to invite them to have fun, and I have become pretty good at choosing my targets accordingly.  Sadly, there is a clear gender divide:  boys tend to be thrilled, and girls reluctant.)

Perhaps it's that focus on pleasing the audience that won me my totally-unsought honor this year.  After our post-parade concert, I was recognized by the master of ceremonies as the "most animated" performer.  It's true that my cymbal technique would never be allowed in a real band!  Porter said I did all right in my interview, but I now have a greater degree of sympathy for politicians who must speak "off the cuff" and answer questions for which they are not prepared.  It's so very easy to think of the answer you should have given, five seconds after the answer you did give has left your lips.  When asked, "How long have you been playing the cymbals?" I hesitated and replied, "It's a secret"—because I had no idea.  That was okay, because it made people laugh, but what I wish I had said was, "I've been playing with some of these wonderful folks for twenty-two years!"  I knew that number because Heather was thirteen when she got us involved with the World's Worst Marching Band, from which the GGGAMB eventually evolved.  (I looked it up after I got home: I first joined, or rather became, the cymbal section only a year after our family joined the band.  Twenty-one years?  Really?)

At that point, Tony, our faithful and intrepid—wild and crazy—director for all those years, grabbed the microphone and announced that I was also the grandmother of ten, evoking a final round of cheers.

We came together with old friends and new; we had fun; we performed a service for an entire town; and we made people smile and cheer.  We didn't save the world, but it was a good day.  Thank you, GGGAMB, and Geneva, Florida, for reminding me that the America I love is still alive and active.

UPDATE:  As Richard, our awesome without-whom-this-would-not-happen organizer, put it when he posted the following on Facebook, "For those with a high pain threshold, here's a video of our entire concert, courtesy of the Community Church of God."  It's 15 minutes long.  WARNING:  it's all quite safe for grandchildren, but children are at great risk of being embarrased by their mother's, um, award-winning performance and acceptance speech.  It's great to grow old and leave inhibitions behind!

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, July 4, 2015 at 6:41 pm | Edit
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For those whose feedreaders caught it early, note that I've updated the post to include another video.



Posted by SursumCorda on Saturday, July 04, 2015 at 8:34 pm

Wow! Congratulations, Mom!



Posted by Janet on Sunday, July 05, 2015 at 2:51 pm

Wonderful! Thanks for posting this on a Sunday when I could watch the whole thing guilt-free!

Those are some good memories. 22 years ago. Tony was directing with cigarettes sticking out of his ears and Rhonda brought her parrot to rehearsal.

And I used to be embarrassed by that kind of thing, but now I think it's great!



Posted by joyful on Sunday, July 05, 2015 at 2:52 pm

It is a not-atypical Florida Sunday afternoon: dark and raining, with the wind rising and "thunderstorms capable of producing quarter-sized hail" heading this way. I had been enjoying a dose of Chesterton (Tremendous Trifles) on the back porch, and under the influence of my gently rocking swing and the soughing of the rain had fallen into a sweet sleep after closing the book on "The Extraordinary Cabman."

Reading Chesterton is like playing with the balance board I was so kindly given for my recent birthday: great fun, but a bit challenging to the vestibular system.

I propose to narrate the incident of the extraordinary cabman, which occurred to me only three days ago, and which, slight as it apparently is, aroused in me a moment of genuine emotion bordering upon despair. ... My best friends are all either bottomless sceptics or quite uncontrollable believers, so our discussion at luncheon turned upon the most ultimate and terrible ideas. And the whole argument worked out ultimately to this: that the question is whether a man can be certain of anything at all.

The wind shifted. The gentle rain now falling on my closed book and my closed eyes urged me to shake off sleep and head indoors, whereupon I read Joyful's extraordinary words: "Thanks for posting this on a Sunday."

I shook away the shreds of sleep that clung to my brain: I was certain I had posted it yesterday, indubitably a Saturday. But lo, there was the timestamp: Sunday, July 5, 2015 at 12:41 am. "In your dreams," my mind replied. It could only have been in my dreams; Porter will attest that I was safely and soundly asleep at that hour. I shook my head once more. Can a man be certain of anything at all?

Sure we can. My feet settled firmly on terra firma and I promptly reset the timezone offset that I had set six hours ahead when posting from Switzerland.

I looked at the strange cabman as he lessened in the distance and the mists. ... [I]t gave me pleasure to remember that my sense of reality, though it had rocked for an instant, had remained erect.



Posted by SursumCorda on Sunday, July 05, 2015 at 6:06 pm

I love you, Mom! I had actually assumed you posted it on Saturday and was going to write "Thanks for posting this when I could read it on a Sunday" but I did check the timestamp and thus phrased it the way I did.



Posted by joyful on Monday, July 06, 2015 at 8:40 am
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