Pa rum pum pum pum

Pa rum pum pum pum

Wurlitzer Bros. Organ - circa 1870
Wurlitzer Bros. Organ - circa 1870

The old organ looked almost neglected sitting in the back of the “chapel” of the funeral home.  The finish was well worn and peeling in a few places, but that look was somewhat softened by the lace runner carefully placed on the top.  The keys were smudged with accumulated dust, and based on the position of a couple of them, I knew some would stick when played.  An old hymnal sat in place, open to a hymn about finding comfort in Jesus.  I wondered if the hymnal was a prop, or if the instrument really had been played recently.   Initially, I didn’t realize it was a pump organ, but when I sat down and looked for the power switch, I realized that the only power would be that which came from my feet pumping the large pedals below.  The labels on the few stops gave me little clue as to how it would sound, but I quickly picked one labeled melodia and another that sounded close to that, and I began to play.

The initial notes were raspy and a little unpredictable, hanging uncertainly in the air as I tried to figure out the best technique for coaxing comforting music out of the old instrument.   But the music grew in strength as I continued to play, gaining volume and confidence as I got into a rhythm coordinating my pumping feet with my hands.  It certainly wasn’t a concert worthy of Carnegie Hall, but it was the best I could do under the circumstances!

In the front of the room, the widow was almost motionless on a chair just a few feet from the body of her beloved companion. Her shiny dark hair was a contrast against the white jacket she had on against the January cold.  Surrounded by several  family members, she sat quietly gazing at his face perhaps trying to memorize his features.  I wondered about her thoughts, knowing that this would be the last time she would see or touch his body in this life.  I tried, unsuccessfully, to put myself in her position.  How do you feel when your husband dies before you are even 50 years old?  Where do you find the strength to go on knowing that you now face the future without him?  How do you make peace with your loss when it still doesn’t even seem real.  He seemed so well just a few days ago . . .

My mind was spinning with these thoughts as I played the familiar strains of “Oh, My Father,” “I Stand all Amazed,” and “Each Life that Touches Ours for Good.”  I continued to play other quiet hymns as I wondered what I could do for her.  How could I serve her?  How could I offer my comfort and deepest sympathy?  Her English skills were even less than my Spanish, so our communication was limited at best, but I desperately wanted her to know my feelings.

After playing through a number of hymns, I returned to “Oh, My Father.”  This time, after a few notes, I heard a male voice join the organ notes, singing the words in quiet Spanish.  As the young man continued singing, another hushed voice or two joined, and they sang through the verses.  I could hardly hear the voices, but I sensed a spirit of comfort fill the room as the woman continued to sit quietly, her eyes never leaving her husband.

Eventually our time was up and she said her last good bye.  She turned and walked towards the door where I met her, and we clung to each other in an emotional hug.  I whispered, “lo siento,” but words weren’t necessary.

Mary nodded, pa rum pum pum pum
The ox and lamb kept time, pa rum pum pum pum
I played my drum for Him, pa rum pum pum pum
I played my best for Him, pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,

Then He smiled at me, pa rum pum pum pum
Me and my drum.

I knew she understood my feelings and accepted my love.

Resolved to . . .

Resolved to . . .

organize

And I’m not just talking about

orderly office files

this makes me happy!
this makes me happy!

straightened pantry shelves

Tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, and beans, oh my!
Tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, and beans, oh my!

functional shelving units

Closet organization
Closet organization

or an inviting work area

Ribbon, anyone?
Ribbon, anyone?

– although I do love all of those things.

Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house,
even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning,
a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God.

Doctrine and Covenants 88: 119

This year I’m going to organize myself – –
my attitudes and priorities, my wants and my needs.
I want to prepare the needful things in my life
and establish our house as a house of God.

Content with my cans

Content with my cans

As part of my personal accountability plan, I have listed on my project page all the rooms of our house that need a deep cleaning.  Okay, so every room in the house is on that list – this whole place needs some attention!  But at least I have a starting point. . .

In an effort to stay on task and clean one room this month, earlier this week I recruited Don to help me bring some order to the food room.  As I finished up today and admired the neatly stocked shelves, I began to muse about this underground room in the far corner of the basement.

Gray walls and blue water jugs - a vision of loveliness!
Gray walls and blue water jugs - a vision of loveliness!

Our food storage room is not a pretty room; the gray cement walls are set off nicely by the gray cement floor covered with orange shag and yellow sculptured carpet pieces left from another decorating era.  Cobwebs collect dirt in the corners, and the ceiling is accented by metal heating ducts.  The only real color comes from the labels on all the canned goods, so of course nothing matches.  And it’s cold in there!  A screened vent to the outside allows the room to be cool in the summer, but really nippy in the winter.

Lining up an apartment?
Making plans to meet a friend?

The shelves sport a little graffiti – phone numbers or addresses engraved with a ball point pen by my youngest brother Tom.   When all the family was home, and his bedroom had been given to a married sibling with children, Tom pulled a roll away bed into the food room and set up housekeeping for the duration of the family visit.

Because of its remote location in the far corner of the basement accessible only through the laundry room, I often neglect or completely ignore regular cleaning and maintenance of the food room.  Flour spills commonly adorn the orange carpet, evidence of restocking the kitchen canister from the big buckets downstairs.  Sacks and boxes of groceries dropped just inside the door may create an obstacle course through which we carefully maneuver to retrieve a can of tomato sauce.  One lone and sprouting potato could be resting on the trunk of Christmas decorations.  It’s very easy for me to pay little attention to a room that we only dash in and out of, one that never hosts a family gathering or sees a visitor.

Tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, and beans, oh my!
Tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, and beans, oh my!

But in spite of its lowly status, the food room is central to our household.  It is the foundation of many family meals.  “Go get a can of chicken broth from the food room.”  It is cold storage for Christmas goodies.  “The Special K bars are in a Rubbermaid container on the right side, middle shelf.”  It’s our own convenience store, conveniently located in our own basement.  “You forgot green chilies for the enchiladas?  That’s okay.  They’re on the left side, middle shelf.”

I’m certain that our kids have their own memories of that cold, simple room.  When they were younger, I know they used to sneak treats out of an infrequent stash of junk food.  Occasionally the room was stocked with cases of soda or candy bars that had been on sale, and I would find evidence of their not so discreet pilfering in abandoned wrappers on the shelves or floor.  Brittney tells about talking to Peter on the phone while they were in high school and hearing him ponder what canned food would taste best cold, right off the shelf as he anticipated an evening snack!

Buckets of flour and
Buckets of flour and sugar supply some of the basics.

Although the kids have left home and our choices of food have changed in the last 20 years, our food room continues to provide peace of mind and encourages us to heed the counsel often repeated by our prophet.  Because of its design for a specific purpose (my parents were genius to include a cold storage room when building this house), with shelves lining those gray cement walls, we are able to buy in bulk and maintain a supply of food right here in our own home.

“. . . I wish to urge again the importance of self-reliance on the part of every individual Church member and family.

None of us knows when a catastrophe might strike. Sickness, injury, unemployment may affect any of us.

We [the Church] have a great welfare program with facilities for such things as grain storage in various areas. It is important that we do this. But the best place to have some food set aside is within our homes, together with a little money in savings. The best welfare program is our own welfare program. Five or six cans of wheat in the home are better than a bushel in the welfare granary.” Gordon B. Hinckley, October 2002 –  complete talk here

Our inventory revealed that we’re doing okay on vitamins,

Can't forget the vitamins
Can't forget the vitamins

but we’re a little short on toilet paper.

Absolute necessities
Absolute necessities

Home to lots of good food, plenty of memories, and (unfortunately) a rare mouse, our now clean and organized food room is a little corner of happiness to me!

An insider's view
An insider's view