lullaby

Last night I found the words to my lullaby.

Every new mother finds herself singing tunes, perhaps tunes that were unexpected, in hope of comforting her crying infant.  Night after night these songs are turned to for comfort and reassurance.  These lullabies are sung mindlessly, eventually taking on a relief of their own deep in the night when thoughts are incoherent, sleep beckons but your body is needed by a small being, and a soft song is sung to reassure that you both that all is safe and will return to calm.

The lullaby that came to me deep in the night was different from the other songs that I sing to my sons.

Years before I had known a Woman whose entire being embodied warmth and acceptance.  There were none unwelcome to her and her presence was magnetizing, people following her billowing skirt and long braid.  She was married to a Man whose gentle and firm presence, together with her joy, laid the foundation for a large community of people, of whom they were the nexus.

They were well-loved, and adored each other with an energy you could mop up.

I adored them too, though from the distance of a newcomer, only marveling at the radiance you wonder if perhaps it might be contagious and if so I would need to find more ways to be around them in the hopes I could gather some pieces of wisdom.

And so, I found myself in a makeshift Tavern one summer in Alaska.  A happy place with peanut shells scattered across the dirt and old wooden reels previously used for wrapping giant cables around and now re-purposed as tables.  There were live skits and singing, a lighthearted affair.  At the end of the evening, this Woman and Man emerged with a group of friends and actors and sang a song, haunting and beautiful.

Using my excellent skill for hearing lyrics that only rhyme with the real lyrics, I thought the song was about a woman named Linda Lane and could only gather something about the boys coming home to her.

So when, deep in the night, my exhausted body able only to rock and hum a tune from somewhere lost inside, this was the song I heard myself singing, remembering only “let her go boys” in the lyrics.

Eyes closed, rocking my sleepless infant, it took me back to the joy of watching her expressive face light up, of admiring how after a lifetime of marriage she adored and was adored, of knowing how many lives she and her husband brought sunshine to, and of the boys in the song finally finding their way home.

Her husband died unexpectedly that fall.

My heart hurts each time.  I think of how death is indiscriminate of even beautiful love.  How impersonal death itself is, but how personal the affect is.  And no one else I’ve ever known has adored their wife so openly as this man, and my husband.  Knowing she lost her love terrified me.  Where then do you turn to for your foundation when the one who gives you worth and life is lost.

Last night I found the song.  This post never made it past my throat as I was singing the lullaby to my son last night, who couldn’t sleep. Tonight I am able.

It is about boys coming home.  Though it is not to Linda Lane, but rather to the Isle of Mingulay, meant to be sung by Scottish fishermen returning home, home to wives and babes.

This is the group I originally heard sing that afternoon.  I was near the drummer, whose rhythm encompassed me and became my heartbeat for a moment.

Now I sing so my sons, who are my heartbeat forever, waiting with love for the day their Daddy will return home too.

Heel y’ho boys / let her go boys
Bring her head round / into the weather
Heel y’ho boys / let her go boys
Sailing homeward / to Mingulay!
What care we boys / how white the Minch is?
What care we boys / of windy weather
when we know that / every inch is
sailing homeward / to Mingulay?
Chorus
Wives are waiting / on the pier heads,
Gazing seaward / from the heather.
Pull her head ’round / and we’ll anchor
‘Ere the sun sets / on Mingulay!
Chorus
When the wind is wild with shouting
And the waves mount ever higher
Anxious eyes turn ever seaward
To see us home, boys, to Mingulay
Chorus
Far behind us hills of Quinlon,
Soon before us hills of heather,
And you know, boys, candles glow, boys
In the windows of Mingulay
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5 responses to “lullaby

  1. What a wonderful folk song, Bee! Some of the most memorable, fun songs to sing are the sea chanteys; those songs that kept the rhythm of a ship’s work moving forward.

    Sleepless nights for mama, and sleepless nights for babies. Ah, yes….the times when you wonder when it will all settle down, but deep down you know that “this, too, shall pass.” And it does. At the time, it can seem like forever (especially in the night when it’s dark), but eventually the sun comes up and a new day dawns. I love new beginnings.

    Loved the post, Ging.

  2. What an amazing story and post Gweeg! PLEASE KEEP POSTING! This made me think of two songs that I’ve discovered recently that I love, and I hope you’ll like too. They’re both about the same general thing: Although it might seem like it’s hard now, someday you’ll look back on these days through a lens of joy.

    Can’t wait for Sunday!

    Love you!

  3. Remebering….. they are one of the models that I hold near as I try to be the best father and husband to you and our boys.
    I will always be sailing home to you. My love.
    Your words are so incredible. It touches so deep.
    I love you.

  4. Ginger thank you for sharing these wonderful memories with us all. Your gift for writing touches my heart in so many incredible ways. I feel like I am part of your family. Thank you for that gift. Cindi

  5. I had been an infertility patient for almost 10 years when I finally gave birth to my first son (followed quickly 13 months later with our second son). So I made up a song that I sang to them every night while I rocked them:

    You are the one that I’ve waited for.
    You’re the one that I hoped for, the one I adore.
    For God has been gracious; He has been kind.
    He gave us a little one, a beautiful little one,
    To love for all time.

    Followed immediately by that old standard:

    Tell me why the stars do shine.
    Tell me why the ivy twines.
    Tell me why the sky’s so blue.
    And I will tell you just why I love you.

    Because God made the stars to shine,
    Because God made the ivy twine,
    Because God made the sky so blue,
    Because God made you,
    That’s why I love you.

    When Garth (#2) was little, the poor kid had one ear infection after another. Three tubes later, he’s now deaf in that ear. But there were many, many nights when I slept in an upright position on the couch as he nestled upright on my shoulder. It was the only way he could breathe and sleep. At the time it was exhausting, but all I remember now was that I could give him the relief he needed, while I sang him the two songs that probably gave me more comfort than they did him.

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