Today was a tough day but a day to celebrate a life. My Aunt Nell passed away at the age of 102 and we buried her in my hometown of Trenton, TN. Aunt Nell was something else. One of the most positive, happiest people I've ever known. Maybe that's why she lived so long! She was also the first professional musician in my family. In addition to playing the piano and organ for more than 50 years at Hickory Grove Baptist Church, the church I was raised in, she also played organ for many funerals at Shelton Funeral Home in Trenton. Those are some heavy gigs.
I've only played at 2 funerals in my life. One was a friend who was also the husband of a co-worker, and the other was the owner of Fat Moe's Bar and Grill in Paducah, where we frequently played and his widow said, we were his favorite band of all the ones who played there. Both times, I was scared to death.
Now I rarely have stage fright and most of the time I relish the chance to get onstage and do our thing, but funerals are different. I am SO SCARED of sending the dearly beloved out into the hereafter with a chunked note, wrong lyric or otherwise obvious mistake! They should be honored with perfection, and perfection is not my specialty. If you've ever heard me play live, I'm sure you'd agree. I never play the same song the same way twice and have been known to own my share of musical "train wrecks."
However, at both funerals, I DID play perfectly and sing perfectly. Even when I never played the song perfectly while rehearsing. The only thing I can figure is the hand of God moved my fingers, led my voice and allowed me to do something I never do...a perfect performance.
Maybe that's how Aunt Nell made it through all those funeral gigs herself...