I of course will never forget that March evening in 1977 when the doctor said to me: "We have an emergency situation here; there's more than one baby and we don't know how many there are...get dressed!" There was a shock setting in as I donned the hospital robe and cap and as my wife Linda was being wheeled past me on the hospital bed she smiled and gave a little wave.
As it turned out there were only two little girls born that night....still a complete surprise to all involved, and I am still pretty relieved that there were only two for I do believe I had visions of an entire basketball team! Erica Rae and Monica Lee have been a joy and a treat in my life ever since that night...and since Monica was the second to be born she has been known in the family as being the "bonus baby".
During supper one night back when Monica was a teenager she asked me what time it was. I looked across the kitchen to the microwave, stated the time, and she replied: "You can see that?!" Of course the rest of us came back with: "You can't?" It was then that we knew that she needed to see the eye doctor! So she did, got fitted with glasses, and was very impressed by the fact that the doctor had helped her...that one person could do so much to help another. This feeling has stayed with her to this day and has also lead her to her vocation.
She started off her higher education at a four year college. One night at a party she met a couple of folks who were radiologists and she was impressed enough with them that she dropped out of college (much to the chagrin of her older brother Noel) and enrolled in a tech school. She still had that dream of helping people, and she told me that although radiographers are not highly paid, she didn't grow up "rich" so it was no big deal. (have I mentioned yet how much I love my daughter?)
After graduating as a radiographer Monica turned to ultrasound, applying at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota for the ultrasound program. The clinic accepted only 100 applications and consequently only accepted 10 students....and of course Monica was accepted! (have I mentioned how intelligent she is? >g<) She finished the grueling 22 month program with a 4.0 grade point; and it was then that she discovered that there was an opportunity that made for an exciting few years....she became a "traveling ultrasound tech". Within a year of graduation she joined a company in which she was able to work in different parts of the country for either 6 months or a year...and she was making over a 6 figure salary! (so much for not being "rich"..>g<) Over the ensuing years she worked in Flagstaff, Arizona, Norfolk, Nebraska, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and a few stints in Madison, Wisconsin. She would "go away" for a period of time but then come back to Wisconsin to be close to her family.
And a big treat for me was the fact that during this time she was able to join me at every festival at least once that I was going to with my business! She would specify in her contract with whatever hospital she was going to work for that she needed such and such dates off 'cause she was going to a festival with her daddy! Sometimes she was able to travel with me and sometimes she'd just fly to the festival...and we sure had a blast!
So---she took a job one time in Bridgeport, Connecticut. She had just arrived in town and had just got settled in her apartment when she called me and asked: "I should know Tony Trischka, shouldn't I?" "Of course...", I replied. "He's pretty good, right?" "Of course...you have heard lots of his music while growing up!" "Well...he's playing in a club just down the street on Friday night; should I go to see him?" "Of course...!"
I have been a fan of Tony Trischka's since the mid-70s. I first became aware of him while he was playing with his band "Skyline". I was just getting into the bluegrass music, and while I realized that this band was not strictly bluegrass, it was close enough for me! Since then I have been treated to lots of fine music because of the man...and I wasn't really surprised when I found that he was actually Bela Fleck's banjo teacher. Tony is a monster musician, as they say....
Anyhoo--I know a fellow who is a longtime friend of Tony's. I contacted him and he sent me Tony's email address. I wrote to Tony, explaining that Monica was brand new in "town" and knew no one, and would be coming to his show on Friday night. And, would he please dedicate a tune for her? He answered back, telling me that it would be his priviledge.
That night's concert was a solo concert in which Tony featured his "World Turning" project; a marvelous project in which he explores the history of the banjo. (Monica told me later that she learned much more about the banjo than she ever thought possible..>g<) During the show she was diggin' the crowd, checking them out, when she heard Tony dedicate the next tune to "Monica". Her first thought was that: "wow..there's another Monica in the room; cool". But then when he went on to say that this tune was sent to her from her Father, she immediately knew what was going on and her thought was: "How did he DO this?!" (she knows her father very well....>g<) After the show she got to meet Tony, thanking him for the evening....he told her that her Dad is a big fan of hers.
I have had the opportunity since to thank Tony in person for being so sweet...it's a treat to find that musical heroes of yours are also fine people.