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Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Music Plays On...

He's been in bands since the beginning of our relationship. At first just a rock band, that played in bars around our area and branching out to some other cities too. Once in a while they would even travel together to places far away and spend a couple nights. They made a record, yes a record for all of you who think that was a typo. The thought was that records were fading out and it would be fun to be part of the era of records. It got some great attention, reviewed in Rolling Stones magazine, the words so favorable, one may have thought the road to stardom was opening up. Many local reviews encouraged this way of thinking and I sometimes wondered if our simple life would change. I knew his dream was to play music full time, Mark would love to make his passion his job. I've always encouraged it, after all a happy husband makes a marriage easier. He's better when he's playing, his spirits are higher, his self esteem boosted. When we've gone through dark times where life was all consuming, he has all but quit music. Probably those were the times I should have encouraged him more. When you are just trying to survive the day to day challenges of a daughter with severe disabilities and mental illness, often you can not see beyond the day to day issues. As life  and family took over our time, I may have lost track of his joy when he was making music. Music was not a big part of me until Mark, I enjoyed it and was open minded, so I was usually influenced by whatever my friends enjoyed. Mark introduced me to much more and I enjoyed his enthusiasm when we attended concerts of his favorite artists. The rock band faded as a few of us started to expand our families. The hours were tough to manage with our first baby, Beau being born and he walked away seemingly easily from the dream. I remember questioning it, my fears of him someday regretting that move. I was scared he would resent me and our family for losing his dream. Mark was content though and reassured me much that the hours of a rock band and closing the bars were just not fun anymore. He wanted to move on. So the original band split, it was mutual as I remember, a lot of years together and it felt like the group had run it's course. Some of the guys would form other venues and keep playing together, but as for Mark, he wanted to be a family guy. We had at least a few years without him being heavily involved in music. He still played here and there, occasionally he would sit in with friend's bands when we went out. He practiced sax, but maybe not everyday like I had grown accustom to, just pulling it out and playing for our daycare kids or our son. I remember teasing him if it had been a while ~ "What is that? Wait, I think I remember that sound." Mark always giving the same response ~ "Hahaha, funny dear." I would enjoy the sound of the sax once again and hope he was getting back on a roll of practicing, because I saw the difference in how he felt when he played. But often he just practiced for something coming up, a family occasion where he would be expected to jam with his brothers, who both had been part of the original rock band or when he made a special appearance in our church or with a friend's band. The hiatus ended when his brother asked him about joining a wedding band he had been part of. Wedding bands make decent money and they work better hours than the club/bar scene. He would generally be home no later than 12:30AM as opposed to the days of 3AM or even 5:30AM when we traveled to a city nearby where the bars stayed open until 4AM. It was a nice way for Mark to get back into playing and soon he was the frontman when they discovered his amazing voice. The challenges of being a frontman were many though, he rarely could get out of a gig, because there were no voice replacements. Sax is a little easier to find a sub for, there are plenty of talented sax players in town who could sit in and read parts. The wedding band thrived in those days, playing every weekend, sometimes even twice in a weekend. Mark enjoyed singing and he's a good showman, he can pull in a crowd and make it fun. Word of mouth got them many gigs and the band stayed very busy, but sometimes it got in the way of our life as a family. We missed many occasions together, I was often stag at friend's parties and events or just not go and we no longer could get away much as a family. When Teale came along, Mark was still heavily involved. As a matter of fact he played a gig on the Saturday I was still in the hospital after having Teale. He would almost miss my first time holding our daughter. I had wandered down to the NICU late that night, unable to sleep, probably worried about Teale. The nurse was about to change her bedding and offered me to hold Teale while she did. I stood there frozen in my pink nightgown and robe, sad that Mark was not there to share this moment. But Mark has always been a sweet father and husband, his children and I being a priority. He had finished his gig and instead of going home, he stopped to check on Teale and I at the hospital. As he walked toward me in his tux, the tears fell down my checks. It was probably 12:30AM and I'm sure he was exhausted, but he couldn't resist stopping to check on his girls. Our very first picture together with our daughter would be of him in a tux and me in a pink nightgown and robe. I can remember trying to force myself to hand Teale to him. When I was able to finally talk through the tears ~ "I want to hand her to you, but I just can't." Mark understood and told me it was ok. The months and years would go by and Mark would continue to play in the Wedding band, the money helped greatly as insurance didn't cover the many expenses of Teale's medical needs. But the challenging life of raising Teale would soon stress us and once again Mark would step away from the making of music that he loved so much....Fast forward to today and the stability of life with Teale has improved immensely. Over the last year or so Mark has gotten involved in many bands. Our dreams of him making it big are few and far between now, but his love of music still makes me wish he could do it as his full time employment. Presently he is part of several bands and or sits in with friends pretty regularly. I can't help but hope that someone will appreciate Mark's talents enough to hire him to do what he loves so he can quit his day job. I have always felt music helped Teale more than any of us could ever realize. We surrounded her with music from the very beginning and we both believed in the power of it's healing. Every night we left the NICU we would leave music playing quietly near Teale. Teale's NICU nurses understood our strong feelings around music and respected them, playing the tapes we left for our daughter in our absence. I've often wondered if Teale would have done as well in a family who didn't appreciate music as much as we do. I've given much credit to Mark for having the foresight to see music as an important aspect of our children's lives. As his parents had the same beliefs for him and his siblings, it was a natural progression to pass on the gifts and all three of our children are naturally talented also. Music surrounds our family and always will. I still often find myself hoping Mark is able to realize his dream of full time employment in music but even if that never happens, I know music was and will continue to be responsible for much good in our life together. 

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