A new song written for a very special person this month ~ my greatest fan. Come into the kitchen. I’ll introduce her to you.
Tom and Sean Smith at Club Passim.
Photo: Phil Knudsen
I have a busy show schedule this month. I am especially charged up to appear in Dedham at the Motherbrook Arts and Community Center in concert with Seth Connelly on Saturday, Sept 26th at 8:00 pm. More details below and also at this link. Seth and I will be doing two full sets. Any show with Seth at my side is a memorable one! I can’t wait to share this evening with you. Bring a friend!
This Month’s Music
© 2015 Tom Smith
Lyrics in comments below
On last Thanksgiving weekend, my mother, Carmen Smith died. Thanksgiving was a favorite holiday of hers, as it is mine. Her sons, daughters-in-law, and most of grandchildren and great-grandchildren were with her that weekend. We sang her favorite songs, told stories, laughed loudly and cried quietly. She would have been 89 years old this month.
My mother was born in Tacoma, WA in 1926. She left an abusive household at age thirteen to live on her own – working in a boarding house and also taking care of a local physician’s children while attending a Catholic high school in Spokane, WA. She met Tommy Smith, an Army Air Corp private at a skating rink in 1942 shortly before he shipped out to the South Pacific where he spent the next three years during World War II. Communicating exclusively by mail, she agreed to marry him when he returned in the spring of 1945, provided she could finish high school first. She graduated with honors. Then at eighteen years of age she crossed the continental United States alone via train to join her betrothed in Scranton, PA. She found the coal mining town of Scranton to be a very strange place. I recall her telling me how her new mother-in-law laughed at her confusion to see people shoveling black rocks into their stoves.
My mother raised four boys. Her greatest pain was losing her first born, Terry when he was eighteen years old to a car crash on Christmas Day in 1965. Studying on her own from books, she received her nursing license and put in a twenty-five year career at the local state mental health hospital where she worked the night shift so she could take care of her sons and home during the day. After her retirement, she volunteered to take care of numerous poor and elderly men and women in the last months of their lives.
Mom “walked lightly” on this earth. Through all of the pain and difficult economic times, she kept her positive outlook, was quick to laugh, and spent her entire life in the service of others. She had a positive word for and about everyone she met. Considered the “Mother Teresa of Northeastern Pennsylvania”, she was the personal assistant for a great many priests in her local Catholic parish. At her funeral mass, three of the four living heads of her parish insisted upon sharing the celebrant duties – almost coming to blows to decide who would deliver the eulogy.
Two months ago I was preparing her house for sale when the nucleus of this song came to me. It was a moving experience to handle all of the common objects that made up her daily life – her sewing kit, her baking pans, her boxes of memory cards and photos, her rosary, and so much more.
Tom, Dale and Guy with our mother Carmen
I am so fortunate to have had this wonderful woman as my model for how to live my life. She has “shown that success is not gathering more, and courage does not always roar”.*
* From this poem by Mary Anne Radmacher
Courage doesn’t always roar.
Sometimes courage is the quiet voice
at the end of the day, saying,
“I will try again tomorrow.”
(If so inclined, I invite you to leave a comment by scrolling to the end of this page.)
Thursday, Sept 17, 2015 at 7:00 pm, Worcester, MA
Sea-faring Songs at Nick Noble’s The Folk Rivival Show on WICN 90.5FM Worcester. Also streamed live at WICN.org.
Sunday, Sept 20, 2015 at 2:00 pm, Concord, MA
The Chanticleers joyfully return to the Old Manse in historic Concord, MA. Kate Chadbourne, Oen Kennedy, Pat Kenneally, Robert Phillipps, Linda Abrams and I perform traditional Irish/English/American and original music with guitar, harp, flute, banjo, boudhran, harmonica, and other instruments. Weather permitting.
Monday, Sept 21, 2015 at 7:00 pm, Portsmouth, NH
WSCA Writers in the Round at WSCA 106.1 FM, also streamed live at WSCA.org.
Saturday, Sept 26, 2015 at 8:00 pm, Dedham, MA
In concert with my hugely talented friend Seth Connelly at Mother Brook Arts and Community Center, 123 High Street, Dedham, MA 02026. This is going to be a good one! Please join us.
Sunday, Sept 27, 2015 at 2:00 pm, Concord, MA
I am pleased to play a small part in this gathering at The Old Manse to remember Jake Kensinger, hosted by Ellen Schmidt. We will perform songs that Jake sang and songs and spoken word inspired by Jake’s life as a musician and patron of the arts. Bring your voice – there will be many opportunities to sing along. If weather does not permit, we will move this event to another location indoors. Please watch my website or Facebook for last minute details.
Saturday, October 24, 2015 at 8:00 pm, Rochester, NY
Brian Coughlin’s “Songwriters in the Round” series, with my good friends Leslie Lee and Steve Gretz in the Rochester, NY area. Call Brian at 585-235-5263 for location and to reserve a space. We did this each of the last two years and both dates were very memorable.
Sunday, October 25, 2015 at 7:00 pm, Rochester, NY
Old Time Music Night at Greece Baptist Church, with my good friends Leslie Lee and Steve Gretz
Click to view details for all upcoming shows.
Featured Non-profit: National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization
The mission of NHPCO is “To lead and mobilize social change for improved care at the end of life.” Their vision: “A world where individuals and families facing serious illness, death, and grief will experience the best that humankind can offer.” My family experienced how this organization lives their mission at the end of my mother’s life – and also the ends of life for several other family members and friends. The National Hospice Foundation is the fundraising arm of NHPCO. Please join me in supporting their good work.