When I'm Old...

Cigar Box Guitar Each day for a week, Zeca and I walked to the neighborhood music store where she was taking a class and making a cigar box guitar.

On the last day, it was hot and humid as we walked and the cicadas buzzed incessantly and her sweaty hand felt hot and gritty in mine. I carried the almost finished guitar in my other hand because she didn't trust herself to carry it the few blocks that we had to walk.

I complained about the heat but she said nothing until the music store came into sight and then she said, "Someday, my cigar box guitar will break and I'll be sad. It will break when I'm old and I'll think about my childhood and say, 'I remember when I made this and used to play...'"

I stopped and looked at her and suddenly felt the weight of the guitar in my hand.

She looked up and said, "It's very special to me."

Of course.

She'd cut the neck herself and sanded it until she could run her hands up and down without feeling a nick or splinters. She'd carefully drilled holes into the top of the neck and made grooves in it to place the tiny brads that served to mark the frets. She'd glued those markers in place and carried it home in both hands to make sure that everything dried as it should. She'd attached the cigar box with help from her teacher, the box she'd chosen because it was plain and she liked the deep color of the wood. She'd run the strings to the wing nuts that serve as tuning pegs and tightened them as best as she could.

She made something.

She made something that could make music.

I'd spent the week grumbling internally that the timing of the class was inconvenient. It interfered with getting to the pool when it opened. I'd considered sitting in the music store waiting for her a waste of my time. I could have been writing or returning emails. I could have been doing something.

To me, it was just a class to help pass the summer days, something she would forget about in a month.

That may still be true but, as we stood on that hot city sidewalk, I realized there was honor in the work, unseen value in those pieces of wood and steel strings. It mattered and I hadn't known until that very minute.

When we reached the store, she went into the workshop to put the finishing touches on her instrument and I sat in the front of the store surrounded by guitars and violins and ukeleles. I took a guitar down from the wall and played and took in the smell of the wood and relished the feel of my fingers on those steel strings.

I thought about my daughter and her quiet mind. I thought about her childhood and all the ways we are making it together. I thought of my place in her life and vowed as I often do to be more mindful, more present.

And I thought about the future and wondered about all that is still to come. There will be many moments that bump into each other and pile up over the years until I am old, until she is old.

I think it will be me who sits down with her someday and says, "Remember when we walked to the music store? Remember when you made that cigar box guitar?"

The unspoken question will be, "Remember when you reminded me about reverence?"


This post was written for Just Write. Check out Heather’s post and all the posts of all who joined in this week.