John Thomas was a truck driver. The guys in the terminal all called him Jack. He was a little rough around the edges, a hard worker who spent a career on the road trying to keep food on the table and a roof over our heads. We had a lot of lean times growing up, periodically slipping below the poverty line. But my dad had no quit in him. Seems all he did was work, sleep, and pay the bills. He loved country music. Songs by Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, and Hank Williams always played from his radio. But the man couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket.

My mom was a different story. Patricia Ann Robinson was a 20th century renaissance woman. She sang opera, played violin in the local symphony, painted with acrylics, discussed organic chemistry and zoology at the dinner table, and plucked the banjo. She learned European languages, re-upholstered furniture, planted gardens, and cooked from scratch. Mozart, Beethoven, Gershwin, and Bach filled our home with music until the records were worn out from constant playing. At one point she opened a school for the arts, offering a wide menu of courses – French language, piano, ballet, painting, violin, sketching, guitar, jazz dance, and banjo. Of course, she taught every class…

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