the ones that made me

by tobias crabtree

my dad has a clear, second tenor voice. during a sermon, at any point, he might break into song. people tend to smile and look around when my old man pulls one of his tricky stunts, one minute touting the strength of some long gone man of god, the next minute singing in a soft tenor voice, a song supporting his story. he’s an orchestrator. he’s a story-teller and a singer. he’s 5 foot 3 with heart that’s tall like that goliath fella that wielded weaver-beam spears in my dad’s favorite book.

with all my dad’s goodness, his wondrous talent to which i never held a candle, and his charisma that i see in me but in lesser shades, i gotta say that he owns second place to my mama. my ma never sang a solo, my dad sang thousands. my ma never walked down a flight of stairs on her hand while speaking the glory of god, i personally say my dad do this many times. my ma never cracked off sets on the bench press like there was some kinda special award given out on tuesdays at the european health spa, but i saw my dad do it, and not just on tuesday. hell, my old man can still pop into a handstand any time he wants, and he’s 78.  you know why my ma holds first place? it’s because my dad is half without her. half or less. just ask him.

when my dad was up jumping from the rafters with his bulging chest pumping out the songs of god, my mama was giving me sticks of double mint gum and tickling my arm in the congregation. and her soft, high voice was singing the songs as my dad led them. her voice is the voice i heard in her womb, and oh my, to me, it is certainly the sweetest sound on earth.

these days i listen to what i please. there is a song by some lesser known band that has such a loping sorrow mixed with soaring heights that i can listen to it till the cows come home (which is late, i think).  i have pushed repeat on that song many many times. but i’m gonna tell ya this, that song, as good as it is and as much as i feel like i need it, ain’t seen the day when it can stand in the same room with my mama as she hums some old christian song to herself…

as she makes me pancakes and tea…

in her perfect little kitchen…

on some wednesday morning in colorado where i was born into this twirling world.