Author: Cornish, Rick

Personal History; the Sound of One Hand Clapping

Today's column from Rick Cornish (
Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I drive my friend Brooks Judd crazy. Take last week. Lynn asked me what Iíd like to do for my birthday and, without a momentís hesitation, I told her bluegrass (my favorite music), pizza, (my favorite food) and lemon merengue pie (my favorite dessert). She said sure and I proceeded to call my favorite jam circle up here in the hillsÖ..Bill Schneiderman on guitar, Kenny Reynolds on mandolin, Steve Hall on banjo. And then for bass I called Brooksie. He lives in Turlock, heís NOT in my regular jam circle, heís the perennial homebody, he loathes driving long distances in the dark and he has a bum knee that pretty much has hobbled him for the time being. Of course he said yes; after all, it was my birthday so what else could he say?

So why Brooks when there are half a dozen bass players up here in the hills I could have called? And why, last winter, did I bug him with repeated calls and pleas to go on a weekend houseboat-fishing trip until he finally said yes? Or how come I mercilessly campaigned for a solid year to get him to agree to volunteer for the back-stage hospitality operation at Grass Valley? And believe me, the list goes on and on and on and on. Thereís pretty much no time when Iím not working on my friend to agree to some activityÖ.right now itís another fishing trip to Clear Lake.

To be honest, I hadnít really thought much about why I relentlessly badger Brooks to meet up and do this or that till I was driving to Elk Grove yesterday to pick up my new (used) 6í Delta jointer at the FEDEX terminal there. And then, wham, driving past Lodi, it dawned on me in a flash. All these years Iíve been afraid of losing my early past, and as I grow older, that fear becomes more and more real.

Itís like this. Aside from my wife and my children and their wives and children, I have no family. Mother and father, gone. Sister, gone. Aunts and uncles and cousins, long since out of my life. Thereís really only one person with whom I share my entire life, and thatís Brooks. He and I met when I was one and he was six months old. His mother, who had just recently met my mother (next door neighbors), asked if she could leave her baby for half an hour while she drove into town for some medicineÖ..Brooksie had an ear infection. So he was plopped into my playpen, we stared quizzically at one another for a brief moment as all babies will do, and then we became life long friends.

So, does a tree make a noise in the forest when it falls and no oneís there to hear it? Can you really have a childhood when thereís no one there to remember it with you. I honestly donít know and, frankly, Iím not looking forward to finding out. There are ten thousand little details of my life growing up that I just donít want to lose; who can prove to me they really happened if not Brooksie?

Old friends John Adams and Thomas Jefferson waited until one another were ready to give up the ghost and then, within a few hours of one another, on July 4, 1827, they croaked. Not a bad plan.

Posted:  1/25/2011

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