Growing up, I had heard my older brother play them countless times. My younger sister followed with the same talent. And sometimes when they weren’t around, I would give it a go on their trumpets. It seemed easy enough. Even the valves weren’t needed. The way I saw it, all I needed to work on was lip and lung control. With enough practice I was sure I could play them, too.
Fast forward 15 years or so and I would find myself truly hearing this melodic triad for the first time.
I wasn’t exactly sure whether I should soak them in proudly or wail them out mournfully. But as I stood there in the cool breeze of early May, I found myself once again working on my lip and lung control. Because the man they were honoring with this prideful military tradition was my grandpa.
My thoughts traveled to what caused the formal ceremony. How he had cheated age and pledged to serve this country I consider home. He traveled to Japan, offering his life to ensure those he loved at home were safe and sound.
I don’t remember war stories or hearing how long he was there. I could find out I’m sure. But the other memories that follow make me think I know enough.
The way our Japanese foreign exchange student clung to him, soaking in the phrases he remembered in her familiar tongue. She would laugh and squeal in delight. And I would think: yes. That’s my grandpa. He would then pretend he didn’t know how to translate what he said.
One Sunday afternoon he was reminiscent of the beauty he witnessed within Japan’s landscape. And he said, “I’d love to go back someday. Nikki, would you go with me?” I didn’t even let him finish his sentence before clinging to him myself squealing “Yes! I’d love to! It’s a date!”
Only we didn’t make it. No. Instead, I was here. Listening to the oldest melodic triad known country-wide. Striving to include bravery as one of the traits I’d inherited from the man I loved so deeply. Wishing osmosis could pass the lip and lung control over to me.
For months following, I would wake abruptly, remembering the tune. The shots fired directly into my soul. I finally decided to research the piece that wouldn’t leave me. All these years and I had no idea there were even words to it.
Day is done, gone the sun
From the lakes, from the hills, from the sky
All is well, safely rest
God is nigh.
Fading light dims the sight
And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright
From afar, drawing near
Falls the night.
Thanks and praise for our days
Neath the sun, neath the stars, neath the sky
As we go, this we know
God is nigh.
My heart was finally at ease. I gave thanks and praise for his days. For all I am because of him. And rejoiced in knowing God was nigh. God was close to both of us. And was now the one holding the two of us together.
How about you? Has the song Taps ever been made personal to you? I’d love to hear.
Thanks for sharing your time with me.
NOTE: I am sorry this is late. I had intended this to be my Music Monday Memorial Day post, but life got the better of me and I never found the time to write it. When I sat down last night to write, I had decided to forego it and continue on, sharing something else that has been on my heart. But the words wouldn’t come. It seems I needed to shed these first. I hope you don’t mind. Thank you for your grace.