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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

My Band of Gypsies...

Last Saturday night, five of my precious college friends and I saw Willie Nelson in concert in Belton, Texas.

He. Was. Amazing. AMAZING.

Before the first/warm-up band came out, a young couple (I guessed they were in their early thirties...) turned around and started visiting with me. She asked me if this was our first time to see Willie. I explained that most of us had seen him at least two or three times in the past MANY years. She told me it was their first time to see him and they were SUPER excited. Then he told me they were celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary. I could NOT believe it. They were 40 years old and had three grown children. Towards the end of this group's set, the lead singer said something this deaf chick couldn't understand. Suddenly, tons o' peeps in the audience held up their lighted cellphones. At which point, the young man turned around, grabbed my arm to get my attention, and said: "You know how y'all used to hold up lighters? This is what we do now!" Yes. Yes, young'un, we old codgers used to hold up our Bic lighters and sway to the music. I told him this new thing seemed much safer.  I knew he meant well! (Why, oh why, does it not seem like decades ago that we held up those  dadgum lighters? Sniffy. Sniff.)

Here’s a picture I took from our seats…

He’s to the left. A bit in front of his sister, Bobbie, who played the piano, non-stop, for almost an hour and a half. She is 86, y’all. 86 years young. She. Was. UBER. AMAZING.

There were no large screens to see what they all were looking like as they sang. Played. Other than that, it was the PERFECT venue.

You can see Willie didn’t have a large band. There was a bass player. (Not a bass guitar—a real BIG bass!) A drummer—with a small set of drums. A percussionist. (I told My Sweet Hubby I was pretty sure I could sub for that guy at some point, if Willie needs me to—he was playing the tambourine and other small percussion thingies…I can handle any of them. Little Leighton and I play her set of percussion instruments ALOT.) A harmonica player. (Seriously—how in the world do you learn to play the harmonica? How? Have you ever tried to play one? I don’t even get the basic concept—so I’m quite impressed with good harmonica players. This guy was EXCELLENT.) Willie, of course, on lead guitar. And the SPECTACULAR Bobbie.

He had a “guest” singer. We never quite understood who he was! He came out assisted by a younger guy and pushing a walker. (The kind I want to have someday—it has a chair built in!)

Most of us had seen Willie over forty years ago in, literally, a pasture, on a ranch near our small college town. Emmylou Harris was with him. It was HOT. I’ve seen him one other time since then. In person, that is. I have treasured him forever. We all have. (If you’re a Texan? You’d better love Willie or be prepared to explain, in great detail, why you don't. And you might need to get ready to run.)

Friend Drew had thought this adventure up! Friend Lizzie drove to Belton and stood in line for us to get our tickets! Friend Sparky arranged our hotel rooms. The hotel was right next door to the Exposition Center. When I say next door, I mean we could walk to it. (I won’t go into the weather/rain, traffic, parking, rain, etc. situation. Suffice it to say this: We got to our seats in plenty o’ time. We might have looked like little wet ducks. We made it.)

Here are my Gypsy Sisters:

From top left: Lizzie, M.C., and Drew

From bottom left: Moi, Mitchie and Sparky

We greatly missed the other three who couldn’t attend for various reasons—Ane, Nina and Rett.

I love these girlfriends. With all of my heart. Many of the nine of us haven’t seen all of us, in one place, for a long, long, time. Years and years. When we met up for a long overdue “Reunion” last summer at Lizzie’s casa, it felt like we’d never been apart. Like over forty years hadn’t passed since we’d all been together. When I see them? It feels like going home—sitting in your coziest chair—and catching up with the latest news from blood sisters. Truly. These women are all FABULOUS. Beautiful. Kind. SMART. Funny. Silly. Charming. Wise. Brave. WONDERFUL.

I have faith we'll attempt to keep having these Reunions for as long as we can walk, drive, talk and think. (Unfortunately, we can’t include “remember.” Our memories ain’t what they used to be. In fact, it is priceless for us to go down Memory Lane. You can be told and asked: “You were there! You don’t remember?” And the typical answer is: “No. I have no clue what you’re talking about. Are you SURE I was there?”)

There’s something about friendships that begin in high school and/or college, right? It seems to me that this was the time, in each of our lives, if we were lucky, that we were truly US. Individuals. Not responsible for anyone but ourselves and, therefore, able to be a little wild, a lot carefree, and to forge bonds with people that would know many intimate details about us—including all, or most, of our flaws—and still love and accept us until the end of time.

“On the road again

Like a band of gypsies we go down the


We’re the best of friends

Insisting that the world keep turning

     our way…”

Here’s my prayer for all of our children and grandchildren:

Dear Lord God Almighty,

Please BLESS our children and grandchildren with friendships that survive the tests of time. Please let them all have a group of friends that will be there for them—through the good times and the bad times of life—and still love them, understand them, forgive them, support them and cherish them.


ta-ta for now...

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