From the Heart of Country Music

Nashville is a ten-hour drive or so from Mena. When you've got three little boys, two of which have questionable bladder control, it is eleven and a half. When you decide to sacrifice your own sleep to drive through the night so that you don't have to stop for your children's needs as often, it is only a little over eight.

We spent less than twenty-four hours in the city known as "The Heart of Country Music." I so wish we could have spent a week there. The city is old, and has a lot of character. And! It is all about music! It felt like coming home.

We arrived late on Friday, had brunch with Jason's friend Devin and his daughter on Saturday, then hit the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum before starting home. It was amazing. I didn't drive along Music Row, but I peeked down it as we drove by it.

There was something very cool about knowing I was sleeping in the same city that many of my musical heroes call home or have frequented. I felt a deep connection to the names and faces of the musicians I read about in the museum. The experience was almost spiritual.

Besides this, though, there were a few other highlights I would like to mention:

One of our leg-stretching stops on the way there was at the Memphis Visitor's Center (I believe it is called the B.B. King and Elvis Presley Welcome Center). This is a beautiful place, just on the north-west side of the Mississippi River, with lots of long sidewalks and green space, as well as a beautiful building with larger-than-life statues of its two namesakes.

It was a gorgeous day in Memphis, though slightly overcast--the temperature was a slightly breezy 20°C. We were strolling along the river bank, reading the historical bits on various pedestals along the way, when we approached three homeless people sitting on a bench on the grass opposite the riverbank. Jason and Jude were up ahead, already stopping to read the sign opposite the bench, while Jabin, Noah and I were coming up.

They were seemingly harmless, but somewhat intoxicated, and the older lady was lamenting the way someone had treated her in a rather loudish voice. The old dark-skinned man on the left side of the bench had a white scraggly beard and was missing all his front teeth--but this didn't matter to Noah. Before I could react, before I could say anything, he had gone right up to him and given him the biggest hug ever. Then he crawled right into his lap and jabbered away at him. The man was a little difficult to understand, himself, but he was obviously tickled pink. Jabin, with a grin that would shadow the sun (if it were shining), stood in line waiting his turn, and followed his brother's suit as soon as the man's lap had been vacated.

Jason and I watched the whole event with chagrin. How wonderful that children can love so unreservedly, so unconditionally. How sad that we, as adults, have to teach them to put restraints on behaviours such as this because it isn't safe. How can we teach them to show the love of Jesus, just as they were doing, without putting themselves in danger?

Maybe the real lesson here is not for the children, but for the adults--loving is a dangerous thing to do. But it's the only way to do it.

On the way out of Memphis, we passed by St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Jason said to Jude, "Look, there's your hospital!" Jude was positively delighted, and really took it to heart, too! He went on about that for a good five or ten minutes!

"Does everyone have a hospital? Do you have hospital, Dad? Maybe when I'm older, I'll get to go to my hospital! Maybe I'll let you come, too!" And on and on he went. Eventually, I had to make sure he understood that it wasn't really "his" hospital, it was just named after the same Jude in the Bible that we had named him after. It didn't seem to matter much--he was just as excited about seeing "his" hospital on the way home!

We left Nashville to come home at around 4:30 on Saturday, and finally pulled into Mom and Mike's yard around 12:45 a.m. that night. We transferred the sleeping children as quickly and quietly as we could, packed in our bags, and were getting ready to nod off at last within about fifteen or twenty minutes. After I climbed into bed, Jason and I exchanged about five words wishing each other a good night, etc. From around the corner, where the boys were sleeping, Jabin said, "Qiet!"

The funniest thing about this is that Jabin is the one we usually have to shush about fifteen times to get to go to sleep--the little noise-maker usually talks himself to sleep! Jason and I muffled our laughs with our pillows, and finally entered blissful Neverland.


B.B. King

The other "King"

The egg says "Memphis: Home of the Blues, Birthplace of Rock'N'Roll"

This is Johnny Cash's actual guitar, that he used for most of his career. It was only one of many legendary instruments in the museum.

In the centre of the Hall of Fame.