Monday, July 02, 2007
A CELEBRATION OF JAY
In The Santa Fe New Mexican each week, I read a gazillion letters that families write to loved ones who have died. That seems a little strange to me since I doubt very seriously that those departed folks read the paper.
So . . . on this fifteenth anniversary of Jay's death, I'm not writing to him. I'm just writing some thoughts that are going through this mom's mind as she thinks about her boy. What I plan to write will not be morbid meanderings, I hope, but rather some good memories that I'm cherishing today as I sit in my little messy office here in Cerrillos, NM. Feel free to make comments!
How I wish that Jay had been alive during the digital camera age! You think I have lots of pictures from the point-and-shoot-and-take-the-film-to-the-store-to-be-developed age. Can you imagine what I would have if I'd had my trusty little Sony while he was alive? I'd have to have an external hard drive just for pics of my boy! Anyway . . . the picture on this post is a digital shot of an old picture that Wendy took at Mardi Gras in Mobile one year, maybe in 1992, not long before Jay died. My memory's not that good! One of the last exact things that I remember Jay saying to me was at his last gig, one of the many at Yesterday's in Chattanooga. During the break after the first set, he came to sit with us, as he usually did . . . just for a minute before he started "working the crowd," his term for visiting with everyone. He said directly to me, "Mom, did you see that? I had the crowd right in my hands! You can't even imagine what that feels like!" And he was right. I couldn't imagine it. But I have a picture that shows him with the crowd right in his hands! That's my boy! Maybe you were there that night. Maybe he had you right in his hands!
Today, I'm thinking about all the great times we had following Jay and Velvet Melon around all over the Southeast and even as far as New York. I'm also reminiscing about how you Melonheads always welcomed us old folks at the gigs, how some of you guys would always ask me to dance during my favorite songs (I was a bit clumsy in the movements, I'm afraid), how the waitresses would meet me at the door to tell me that someone had just put a fresh pot of coffee on for me, how Jay would always find time to come over to Frank and me during one of the breaks just to talk to his mom and dad. You may not be aware of it, but many a Sunday evening at Coconut Bay or Chan's Bayside I'd sit and write lesson plans on cocktail napkins during the sets. And many a time, Jay would check just to be sure I wasn't grading papers. No chance of that! Can you imagine what my students would say when I returned the papers and they got a whiff of where I'd been grading? Ah! Those were the good old days!
I'm also thinking of all of you Melonheads who gathered at our house right after Jay died and sat on the floor of our family room with Wendy, going through snapshots for her to put on the collages that she made and that we exhibited at the visitation and funeral. We needed you, and I firmly believe that you needed us during that time. In fact, Frank and I think we remember that Melonheads in various numbers were with us in our home for several days, maybe even weeks, after Jay died. We grieved together. And that was a good thing! I remember hearing several Melonheads say at different times, "Well, God needed a new bass player in his band, and he surely did get one!" That observation was music to a mother's ears, I can assure you! Another specific thing that I remember coming from one of you, this time just a little bit after the funeral, when we were all gathered again in the family room, came from Jack Canavan, if I remember correctly. He said, "The only thing missing from Jay's funeral was having all the cars (126, by Andy Waltrip's count) circle Cordova Mall, yelling good-bye's to Jay. Wouldn't that have been fun? As they say, "Hindsight's 20/20," huh?
Writing about my boy is one of my passions, but I'll end right now. Just had to get some words and thoughts down on "paper" today. Someday I'll put together all of my ramblings, hoping that some of them make sense in retrospect. If you were among the folks at the Velvet Melon Reunion at Beth and Andy Waltrip's house on April 28, we loved seeing you and getting all those hugs. If you weren't there, we missed you. Thanks, Beth and Andy for hosting! And thanks, Wendy (our darlin' daughter), for loving all of us so much that you'd spend literally months getting us all together! I'm still working on the VELVET MELON Reunion blog, so check back soon. Eventually, I'll put lots of pictures on Snapfish and send links to all of you.
Enjoy the day, and remember funny stories about Jay!