One of my co-workers is retiring this year after 35 years of service to our healthcare company. Earlier in his career he worked in a lab in a hospital affiliated with my employer where Elvis was brought to after his death in 1977. Who else can say that? It amazes me. These are pieces of this man’s extensive legacy, his special history and story, with this company; these are the items that will fill his memoirs.
We all have a special story to tell with our lives. When a friend posts about a passing on social media, I usually will respond with some sort of commendation or awe of the legacy they lived, the stories and memories they have left with us. I love reading about other peoples’ contributions. We’re here to give.
Makes you think of what lasting impression you’ll make with your story. What impact has your life made, beyond consumption of oxygen and carbon-based food items? What will you leave behind beyond that to share with the landscape or air? How long will the ripples of your personal impact last?
As a childless person, I actually mourn more that I will never have grandchildren than I do never having children. Isn’t that a bit funny for a 40-something? I’m sad no one will ever call me Nana or Gramma. I will say that being Auntie Cara has been incredible. I recently was talking with friends about the birth of my nephew. When he arrived, oh my goodness, he had my father and brother’s eyes. I “recognized” him instantly. This huge adrenaline rush came over me – he is OURS! He is ONE OF US! Funny for an adopted person, perhaps, but my brother and I are pretty close. When my nephew was born, I miraculously and instantly grew another ventricle of my heart for this little baby with the enormous cheeks and furrowed brow with his first bottle shoved rudely in his mouth by the nurse who was simultaneously trying to hold him up to the window for us to admire. He confusedly nursed and checked us all out. We beamed. I wanted him to know me, and I wanted to know him. I love him so much – and my niece as well. I had to go back and add that we had a wonderful Christmas this past year together. It was the first year both kids (6 and 3) were over-the-moon excited to see Auntie Cara and spend time with me watching movies and having a sleepover. With tears, I write that I miss them terribly.
I know my niece and nephew will carry my love and influence with them, and maybe pass some of that to their own children, should they have their own families one day. I know the children of my friends will also carry pieces of the Auntie Cara story with them forward also. I know the public/private and Sunday school students I have taught over the years will carry knowledge, love and maturity I helped cultivate. I don’t foresee my music making a tremendous impact on the world. It’s hardly socially relevant in any Bob Dylan, Prince, Michael Jackson or David Bowie kind of way, but it’s fun. It’s pieces of me I will lay scattered among my trail as I journey forth should anyone have a mind to pick one up to examine it.
I think the greatest impact I may have on the larger world will be the Pro Blues Jam I run at The Country Nashville every Tuesday night. I can’t adequately say how proud I am of that baby that’s grown quickly into an adult and taken on a life of its own. I gave birth to it! I am its cultivator! I help it flourish and grow. I water it, give it sun, and prune it when necessary. I’m its caretaker! I’m its parent! What a gift to create a space for some of the most talented, but largely unrecognized musicians in the world to practice their gifts and to taut them on social media after the fact. I am the luckiest girl in Nashville.
At the end of the year last year, the most frequent feedback I received was from many of the younger musicians who reported they REALLY LOVED the opportunity to receive healthy critical feedback from peers they respect. They like hearing how they can get better. It’s a classroom for them. Jams were a classroom for me – I learned how to work a mic, work a room, and work with varying sound systems & sound engineers! I’ll say it again, what a gift!
I KNOW for a fact we will someday say of these young folks that we “knew them when.” Kids like Preston James, Will Beeman, Dan Wecht, Nick Novelli, Eric Ganis, Chase Walker, Kyle Law, Brandon Salaway, Mike Tebrinke, and that’s just the ones off the top of my head; there are so many, and they ARE going to be more widely known, and they will be a part of my ripple, part of my story, part of my legacy, that they used to come to Cara’s Pro Jam and learn from folks like Shaun Murphy, Kenne Kramer, John Marcus, John Prestia, Dave Isaacs, Stan Lassiter, Jimmy Dormire, Dave Fields, Big Mike Griffin, Donnie Miller, Funky Z (Darryl Fields), Shakey Fowlkes, and my very own Val Lupescu, G. Lee Worden, and Stevie Dee. Good Lord there are so many I feel guilty for leaving out on this list. Hundreds of them. Have I said it? I’m the luckiest girl in Nashville.
I savor and relish the fact that my legacy will one day be years of service to Blues music and to the Nashville music scene. Thanks to my day job, my band, and our awesome venue for enabling me to do that. Our legacy is each other. The ripples are interrelated. Where they are part of my ripple, I am part of theirs and so on and so forth.
Let’s start making waves, friends.