Monthly Archives: April 2019

Mizzou, and my parents

I spent a few hours at Mizzou this weekend. State solo/ensemble festival is held in various buildings on the campus.

And I visited my great-nephew and niece. My sister Karen had driven in for the day, and we chatted about gardening while enjoying the sight and sound of a baby boy who represents the next generation.

And I found myself thinking about my father.

Pop used to tell me stories about time spent in this Union building at Mizzou. He and Mom met at the Baptist Student Union just a few blocks away from Memorial Union.

When I was a child, my parents had tickets to home football games at Mizzou. They’d bundle us kids up and leave us with Aunt Esther and Uncle John (I saw them more than my grandparents, thus cementing that life-long bond between me and Aunt Esther). In 1969, we were driving in from Hannibal. In 1971, from Lee’s Summit.

I realize now, of course, that those season tickets to football games represented my parents’ wish to stay in touch with their college friends. If I remember correctly, that would likely be Bob & Shirley, Bill and Ruth Ann.

At some point, the connection to Mizzou faded in its intensity. Family, career, location — all have a way of altering the DNA of our inner lives.

For years now, whenever I am at Mizzou for an event, I have this sense that this is the place that allowed me to be. I would not be here were it not for the Baptist Student Union, and Calvary Baptist Church, and the University of Missouri where my parents ended up at the same time, in the same room.

And as much as I bleed crimson and blue and fly my Jayhawk flag proudly, I’m grateful for Mizzou.


I was also thinking yesterday about shadows and memories.

Any drive around Columbia, Missouri is filled with them. I spent summer weeks with Aunt Esther in the tidy little house on Clinton. I went to West Boulevard Elementary School for one year. The first house my parents ever owned was on Clayton Street in Columbia. My youngest sister was born there.

But I also found myself thinking about my father’s last days sixteen months ago, about his decision to cease treatment for leukemia . . . his concern for his wife and my sisters and the effect of this decision on them . . . his stubborn refusal to let go in his last minutes of speech and lucid thought as he said “I’m not ready.” . . . his lack of tying-up-loose-ends preparation for the end . . . his incredible loyalty to my step-mother who had saved him over and over in those years after my own mother died, and who he was now saving from her own increasing frailty.

There’s no moral here. No great revelation. Just shadows of thoughts. And perhaps some self-awareness too. We shall see.

The cupola of Jesse Hall, Mizzou, on Saturday.

#TBT: Final month

Scenes from my final month as Director of Ball State University Singers, April 2008 —

Love’s Labours

I attended this weekend a matinee of Love’s Labours Lost, presented by the Webster University Conservatory of Theatre Arts.  Five of my Webster voice students were in the show.

This show was exhilarating, fun, catchy, life-affirming.  (The show was a musical, based on the eponymous Shakespeare play.)

My two seniors:

Jacob Flekier.
Ben Love.

I love these guys so much, and I’m so happy for their choices, their growth, their drive, and their balance.

Eastertide

The morning light renews the sky.
Across the air the birds ignite
Like sparks to take this blaze of day
Through all the precincts of the night.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

The fires of dawn refresh our eyes.
We watch the world grow wide and bright
And praise our newly risen Light.
The winter land receives the year.

Her smallest creatures rouse and cling
To swelling roots and buds that stir
The restless air to reel and ring!
Alleluia! Alleluia!

The sounds of waking fill our ears.
We listen to the live earth sing
And praise our loving Source and Spring.

~Pack Browning


From Christ Church Cathedral, Saint Louis, on Easter Sunday 2019:

This week’s menu

Easter Sunday
Bacon, eggs, homemade bread
Meat loaf and salad
Lamb chops, new potatoes, green beans, lemon cake

Monday, 22 April
Bacon, eggs, grits
Meat loaf and stuff, lemon cake
Caesar salad, fruit

Tuesday, 23 April
Bacon and fried egg sandwich, fruit
Meat loaf, green beans, fruit
Taco salad, lemon cake

Wednesday, 24 April
Bacon and eggs as usual
Tuna salad sandwich, chops, fruit
The last of the meatloaf and salad, lemon cake

Thursday, 25 April
Usual breakfast, probably
Lunch with department chairs and Provost
Tuna salad sandwich on the way to Variety rehearsal
Post-rehearsal snack of lemon cake

Friday, 26 April
Southwest Diner breakfast
Cheese & crackers, oranges
Pasta and salad of some sort

Saturday, 27 April
Usual breakfast
Meals en route to/from State Music Contest