This Old Guitar

John Denver’s old guitar taught him to sing a love song. Mine has not. Taylor Swift has teardrops on her guitar. Mine? Mostly dust. If any lesson was taught with my guitar, it was probably one of patience for my husband. He is the one who has gingerly hauled the relic around the country for no apparent purpose other than his wife’s sentimental connection with her father. Incidentally, my husband’s first encounter with my old guitar began in college, near John Denver’s beloved Rocky Mountains. During the summer of 1984, we were both living in on-campus student housing. It was a tiny college; I think the “dorms” were former army barracks. I had stored my guitar in an attic space and forgot to retrieve it when I moved into a different dorm when school started in the fall. Another student discovered the guitar and being a guitar player himself, thought he had discovered a treasure. My (future) husband kindly went and reclaimed it for me. The guy only relinquished it after my husband told him how the guitar had belonged to my deceased father. That semester I became good friends with one of the new students in my dorm, Maxine Deutschendorf – John Denver’s first cousin!

Unfortunately, none of these connections to John Denver ever made me a guitar player. Every few years I get inspired to learn to play it. That was the case a few weeks ago. I stayed with it long enough to develop some calluses and taught myself how to pick out “Wayfaring Stranger.” I don’t know why it was easy for me to figure out this particular song, but its mournful sound was appropriate for my pathetic attempt at playing. Perhaps it was by Divine appointment that one of my daughter’s friends accidentally broke one of the strings the other day. The world will once again be spared my guitar playing – at least until I talk some nice guitar-playing friend into putting on another E string for me!


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