Spirts at the Blind Tiger: Signs & Superstition 2

Charlene told me Beth’s old music group was playing at the Blind Tiger on Tuesday evening, June 17th. Sometime after they began, Tim suggested they play Beth’s Waltz.  But Beth hadn’t played with them for a long while and no one could remember the tune. (Link to Blind Tiger Pub )

Blind Tiger is slang for an illegal drinking establishment.

They played their fiddle tunes and country dance music, the usual repertoire.  There were spirits enough to go around at the pub, but during prohibition customers would pay to see such animal curiosities and receive a “complimentary” drink.

The night before the gig, Beth had trouble breathing and had been coughing a lot.  So she saw the doctor the next day.  After dinner, she lay down for the evening, held Tiffany’s hand and smiled at her, making humorous expressions, grateful for her loving care.

After the musicians began their first set, Beth’s Waltz came into Johanna’s head.  She told the others and played the melody which Charlene had composed.

They played Beth’s song throughout the evening and they remembered it at the same time that Beth took her last breath.

June 17, 2014

Beth’s spirit was in the Blind Tiger that night and maybe her friends were with her too.  She left this worldly existence, smiling and grateful.  And she left with song

Composed by Charlene Thomson for her friend Beth

A few years ago, Beth told my daughter Cara to bring her violin on her next visit.  Beth loved to play instruments and this was her latest and last musical endeavor.  Fiddle is a violin and refers to the type of music played, old-timey stuff like folk and bluegrass.

Itzhak Perlman plays violin; Beth played fiddle.

One evening she instructed Cara to get her fiddle so they could play. Cara shared music from school, but grandma had something else in mind.  She gave her a fiddle book and then she opened up another violin case.  She walked to where I sat in the recliner and handed me a fiddle.

I have played piano since I was five and I played violin but only through high school.  I had not played the violin for over 20 years.  I declined, explaining that I couldn’t remember the fingering or the bowing or even the strings.

Beth didn’t move.  She was a force to be reckoned with and her physical strength mirrored her personal strength.

I shrugged. Took the fiddle from her and set up a music stand.  I can read music and fiddle music is simpler than my piano music.

Cara played well enough and I managed the finger positions but had trouble with the fourth finger.  Beth didn’t care.  She told me fiddlers could play open strings.  She told us to make mistakes, have fun.

We played oldies like Angeline the Baker, Amazing Grace with harmony, and Shady Grove.

We played for hours, sitting in her living room, three fiddlers from three generations, not putting the fiddles away until close to midnight.  I have not forgotten that evening.  I see my daughter, her grandmother, and my reflection in the window, connected through music, through love.

It was magic.

My husband shook his head, astonished.  He kept saying, “I didn’t know you could play violin.”

I didn’t know I could play either.

Beth did though.  She believed in us and she knew we could.

Cara played fiddle on stage for her sister who danced an Irish jig the next year.

Both of us played with Beth’s brother during a jam session after the funeral.  I played with Beth’s music group this weekend.

And together Charlene and I played Beth’s Waltz.

I wished I played with Beth and her group when she was alive.  But I thank her.  For her spirit, the “fiddles” and most of all, the love.

** For the not so superstitious, read earlier letter Signs, Superstition, & Life.

Jul 11, 2014

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

About the Author

Mylinh Shattan is a writer who has lived on three continents, served in the Army, worked in corporate America, and taught in college. She loves adventures, in the world and in the mind. Literature is relevant and learning is a lifelong pursuit, so you might as well have a bit of fun along the way.

Stay Up to Date

Become a better reader and writer today and try the TreeHouseLetter for free. Always learning with a bit of fun.

Latest Posts

Giving Thanks for Dissent and Cookies

3 Min read True Story On Gratitude and Dissent 1 Cookbook rec * Giving thanks this time of year is a practice in gratitude. Gratitude is vogue, hip, lit. It's handy and eternal, an ever-ready virtue, making an appearance at holiday tables before the first sip of wine....

On Perfect Love and Longing

4 Min read 2 Book recs True story AVAILABLE ON PODCAST Spotify Apple Podcasts E-Bar in SONO's Nordstrom * The espresso and warm froth quicken the senses, which I need for what I'm about to hear. I'm sitting at the E-Bar on a Tuesday with my mother. I like it here and...

All Souls’ Day and the Haunting of 4714

4 Min read True story Paranormal activity, Scott Barracks 1 Book rec * All Souls' Day (NOV 2) is the day to remember the dead, observed by Roman Catholics. It follows All Saints' Day (NOV 1) and All Hallows' Eve (OCT 31 or Halloween) which commemorate the saints, the...

“Kinda This, Kinda That” in the Mid-pack

3 min read Mid-pack running True story 1 Book rec, ancient Toltec wisdom AVAILABLE ON PODCAST On Spotify Apple Podcasts * Mid-life has its miseries. As does adolescence and old age, and while we're on the topic, puppy-dom. My 11 month-old shepherd-boxsky mix Simba is...

What to Say When People Thank You for Your Service

3 Min read True Story from the SMA (The Sergeant Major of the Army) Army Ten-Miler, race in Washington, D.C. with 20,000 runners * AVAILABLE ON PODCAST Spotify iTunes Sergeant Major of the Army Michael A. Grinston with West Point cadets * I want to share something I...

We Are All Made of Nouns*

2 Min read Short take 1 Book rec AVAILABLE ON PODCAST Spotify iTunes * We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect. Anais Nin. In Anna Quindlen's new book, Write for Your Life, she says that people are "made of nouns, live by verbs, and enlarge and...

What Music Teaches Us About Writing

7 Min read The Music in Prose Creative Writing Forum, West Point Sentence rhythm, Beryl Markham and David Foster Wallace Writer's Toolbox, Improve writing immediately * AVAILABLE ON PODCAST Spotify iTunes I met with the Creative Writing Forum at West Point to discuss...

Topics

Become a better reader and writer today and try the TreeHouseLetter for free. Always learning with a bit of fun.