This song is actually one that I hold quite close to me. Not because it necessarily has the best melody/harmony combo, or meet musical theory perfection, but because of the means (and meaning) of writing it. This song was written for a person who was a very influential person while I was still a kid. I had (still have) great memories of her, and will Never (to) Forget them.
I had never been camping, due to financial situations with the family (which I really appreciate now actually [even though I thought it sucked as a kid], it helps keep me a lot more humble toward outlook on life). But, my parents would always do their best to do “fun things” for my brothers and myself. So, when one day after Sunday school (at our local church), Mrs. Miller (the person who this is dedicated after) pulled me aside saying that she had some big news for me. She ended up telling me that she was going to pay for me to go to a Christian camp up north in Wisconsin, but only on the terms that I memorize a sheet filled with different, short passages from the bible. Granted, she was very lenient on what I did memorize. I was able to memorize and recite most of the passages, and she seemed satisfied at the fact that I applied myself. So I was able to go.
So, I ended up going to Camp Fairwood, and that turned out to be some of the best times of my life so far. I wasn’t the only one who went from our church though. There were two other girls, at around my age. And it was just a blast. And while at Fairwood, Mrs. Miller ended up sending us a package everyday (the two girls and myself), with an encouraging hand-written letter, with some other miscellaneous things.
About a year after going to camp, we ended up moving away, and I lost contact with the two girls and others at the church. But, one of our neighbors down the road were friends with Mrs. Miller, and we would get updates through her every now and again. Going to the next year (two years after Fairwood), we received the news that she had suddenly passed away (due to cardiac problems). So despite our distance, my mother was able to take me to her wake (not the burial though), and I was able to see her one last time. But unfortunately, I wasn’t able to catch either of the two girls. After that, I ended up moving on from the past, and never really gave thought to Mrs. Miller or the other two girls for years.
Then, when I was 17, I was out applying for jobs, and ended up landing a job at our local KFC. When the RGM called me in to do the paperwork, I showed up and learned that she also called in the other new employee to do hers also. And out of all the possibilities (you see where this was going), it was one of the church girls! Granted, we didn’t recognize each other right off the bat, and it wasn’t until a few minutes in that we discovered who the other one was, only because we saw each other’s first and last name. It was a shame though that it was such a formal environment, but we still had a warm greeting, and quickly caught up, but had to keep it short and sweet as the RGM was still sitting next to us. Granted, the RGM seemed surprised and pleased that we knew each other.
Once I did start working, first day on the job actually, I’m greeted by a shorter teenage girl, who knew my name, and very hyper-like, started asking me about my family. I was without words, as I didn’t know how she could have possibly known all this. It was then that I realized that it was the second girl from church (btw, I do know the names of said girls, but am keeping them out on purpose for protective reasons)! The odds of that happening, having the trio back again, all working at KFC, just seemed incredible. With the art of conversation, we ended up coming across Mrs. Miller, and asking each other if we still had her packages (I do remember though how this conversation came up: I had asked the first girl how her father was doing, and found out that he had also passed away some years ago. That lead to the whole Mrs. Miller thing). We all did. But I had never actually gone through them. They were just sitting in my closet.
So, when I got home, I just dug up the box that contained all of her packages that she had sent to us. I ended up going through each individual thing, letting the memories pass through me between the events that took place at the camp. I ended up getting angry at myself when I came to the last two packages. Since those were from the last two days, I hadn’t really bothered to open them at camp. So, I was able to read those last hand-written letters for the first time. And the last letter killed me. It was a very sincere letter, and she was going on about how proud of me that she was. And wishing me that I hold onto the lessons and memories that I garnered up at Fairwood. So, later that night, I booted up Finale Notepad (I hadn’t heard of Musescore yet), and I just wrote down some melodies that were going through my head after the packages.
I chose to have the song feature cellos, as that was her favorite instrument. I was almost about to have it be a cello trio, representing myself and the two girls, sharing our grievances and memories about her. But I stuck to a duet to represent myself. The second voice is meant to be me back when I was attending the wake. I let that part have more of the spotlight, as that “me” was the one who felt the loss of Mrs. Miller as it happened, hence having more felt the raw emotion at the time being. I also wrote it to be playing the higher notes in the beginning, just for the fact that my voice was higher back when I was little. The first voice was me when I was re-reading those letters, and going through all the old items. The first voice is playing more of the background in the second part, representing that I still felt the loss and pain, but wasn’t living it for the first time. But plays the harmony, as even though this “me” isn’t experiencing loss for the first time, I’m able to understand a deeper depth of what happened. And I wrote the voices to be opposite (the first cello being the second me, the second cello being the first me), as I wanted to find a way to say that Mrs. Miller was the first person who I knew that died, and it flipped my view on what death was.
Once we get to measure 19, that’s where I wanted to represent me reading those two last, unread letters. Because the “first me” (or second cello) didn’t know about those letters, I had it play just simple whole notes (in a minor key of course), to act as the grieving going away, or to have it die down, as it were. But the “second me” (or first cello) was experiencing the feelings of reading those two letters for the first time, hence why they have the spotlight. After that, I created the 3rd part, which is called ‘Memories’. It’s supposed to be what the title implies. It’s just a nice, happier, melody, which was me when I just letting the good memories from Fairwood flood over me.
At measure 54, if you’ve already listened and followed along, it’s kind of a mess. Which was of course, done on purpose. It did have some sort of meaning to it. Not the notes themselves, but the meaning behind it. So, the all-over-the-place random notes were actually meant to represent Mrs. Miller’s wild and fun personality. You never did know what she had in plan for any activities, and you would just go along for the fun ride. She was always very optimistic, and at times, seemingly hyper. So, that was why I put that little part in there. To kind of keep that going, I literally just clicked randomly, moving my mouse wherever on the clef. You can observe the result 🙂 But at the end, since these were just memories, they had to end eventually. So, reality slowly takes hold, and I bring it back to the main theme, before I abruptly end it. I decided to let that last chord remain unresolved, just to represent Mrs. Miller’s abrupt end of her future. Both seemingly remain unfinished.
So, a year after the reuniting of our trio, the second (short) girl leaves KFC, and I end up becoming a restaurant manager. A year after that (I was then 19), I end up leaving KFC, and moving to Florida. A few months after I quit, so does that last girl. With that, this sums up the back-story to this piece.
Ironically enough, after debating whether I wanted to keep the song private or not, I ended up incorporating this song into the “FORGOTTEN Instrument” series. But since this year is the decade mark since her passing, and Forgotten Instruments VII doing pretty well on Musescore, I’ve decided to let her legacy be known (to me at least). Now if you read this far, I applaud you. And if you have read the entire thing, I just want to thank you deeply. It means a lot to me that you took some time to read about her.