Saturday, November 24, 2012

Bedtime Ditty or Anytime At All

What do you get if you combine a rocking chair with a little ditty? If you happen to be talking about my grandmother then surely the two would lead to her sitting in her rocking chair humming and singing one particular short but sweet lullaby-type verse to any toddler perched on her lap or baby cuddled up in her arms. It didn't necessarily have to be bedtime for this to happen. And no matter the age, the little bundle lucky enough to be wrapped in her embrace seemed to sense how special the moment was as her reassuring voice would sing the simple stanzas over and over again. With her down-to-the-waist length hair pulled up in a bun and held in place with hair combs, and her black-laced shoes firmly set on one of her braided rugs, my grandmother's rhythm in both rocking and singing blended effortlessly as the simple words filled the room with a warm, comfortable, fuzzy feeling-the same sort of feeling you get when curled up with a good book on a snowy evening.

The ditty was 'Pony Boy' and if I didn't know any better I would have thought my grandmother wrote it. But of course she didn't. She just sang it like she did and every time it came to one particular point she would slow down and emphasis one particular word with as much enthusiasm as she'd shown the last one hundred times she'd recited it. Granted the babies didn't notice but the toddlers did. They'd about hold their breath when the chair stopped rocking until they heard "Whoa-my Pony Boy". Then the rocking returned as the voice danced to the end of the ditty, adding an extra hug or two for good measure.

My mother never sang 'Pony Boy.' Most afternoons when my sister was very young she would rock her to sleep and as my mother rocked she'd hum her own little ditty. I know her ditty was an original for there were no words-just repeated sounds hummed in such a monotone that my mother often fell asleep too.

Lullabies or ditties-words or no words-however they are defined-boil down to generations spending precious time together and that alone is worth singing from the mountain tops.

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