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Reflections of a Lifetime: My Journey Through a Country Tune

You may not be able to condense your entire life into a country song, but you can certainly come close.

Music has always been my sanctuary. Whether it was the Hootie and the Blowfish album my father played incessantly during the summer of 1995 while refurbishing a neglected hot rod, or the Merle Haggard vinyl records he unearthed from storage in 2002.

Life may be chaotic, but music remains a constant source of clarity. There’s a purity in knowing that an artist poured their heart into a recording, sharing it with the world so that individuals like me could fill our homes with their emotions.

It might seem presumptuous for someone to assume I want their raw feelings blasting through my speakers. Yet, this very vulnerability and human connection are what make sharing music so special.

Songwriters bravely lay bare their emotions, embracing their vulnerability.

George Strait guided me through my first heartbreak, while the Goo Goo Dolls were my companions through high school.

I’ll admit, I went through a Nirvana phase.

I believed that with the right song, I could weather any storm.

However, I always find myself returning to country music. Not the artificial, pseudo-country pop that some mistake for the real thing. That’s more like the soundtrack to a melodramatic soap opera.

Authentic country music is filled with cheesy lyrics, yet it’s raw, heartfelt, and genuine.

It beckons to me, much like the endless Wyoming hills beckon me back home after a vacation. My father’s disapproving look calls me back from a sarcastic remark. The spring breezes pull me out of my own head.

One breezy evening, my spirited son picked up my husband’s guitar.

I glanced at my husband, a songwriter of country hymns, to gauge his reaction.

He grinned and joined our son. Guiding the little one’s fingers to form chords on the strings.

“That’s G,” he explained.

Our son nodded in understanding.

He adjusted his fingers again. “And that’s D,” he continued.

As the boy strummed, the guitar hummed in response.

“And this,” my husband said, positioning our son’s ring finger, “is C.”

With each strum, the guitar seemed to sigh in relief.

“If you memorize and practice these chords, you can play countless songs,” my husband encouraged.

Dimples adorned our son’s smile as he continued strumming.

I left to tackle a mountain of dishes, but the melody of those three chords lingered in the air.

Eventually, all four boys brushed their teeth and settled into bed.

Our son brought the guitar with him.

Entering the twins’ room, I found our gentle giant lying on his stomach on the carpet, gazing up at our son perched on the edge of his bed cradling the guitar. His denim-clad knees splayed out, one bare foot resting on its mate on the floor.

His turquoise eyes hidden beneath his Wyoming Cowboys hat, he focused intently on his fingertips pressing into the strings. Shadows cast across the lone dimple on his chin.

And he played.

“Mom!” Middleborn exclaimed, entering to investigate the commotion, “What’s with your face?”

Our gentle giant glanced at me.

“Oh, nothing. He just moved her to tears with his guitar playing,” he remarked.

“Mom cries when she’s happy. It’s weird,” Firstborn chimed in, entering the room in search of weights.

Tears streamed down my face. Witnessing our son’s courage in expressing his innermost thoughts through music, he resembled a young George Strait singing of love and loss in Amarillo, devoid of regret.

“Hey Mom, you alright?” our son inquired.

I nodded.

If my entire life could be encapsulated in a single country song, that moment would be it.