“Go, Dog. Go,” San Francisco whales, and things that make us smile

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Sometimes – especially after the great experience I had speaking to a receptive crowd Saturday morning – I think there’s no better feeling than making a roomful of people laugh. But then something happens and I make my grandchildren smile. Game over.

There is this silly song I’ve been singing to David and Beks on Facetime – so of course they wanted me to pull out my guitar and do the live version when they came for a flying visit this weekend. And – as with everything that’s loaded with meaning – “In San Francisco Bay there lives a whale” comes with a history.

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Singing the “San Francisco Whale” song

Here’s the story:

I first learned the song back in 1978 from John Jane. John was a graduate student at Columbia Seminary, taking masters of divinity classes with Rebekah. He was a great guy and a gifted guitar player and – until Rebekah and I got engaged that October (and probably for a long while after) – he really really wanted to play her heartstrings too.

Today John is a pediatrician practicing – I believe – somewhere in New England; but we think of him every time I play one of the arrangements he taught me.

The whale song became an instant hit with my students during my two decades of work as an exceptional education teacher. But then, after I became a full-time writer, the song lay dormant for a number of years. Somehow it never made its way into the repertoire of music I have used when leading men’s retreats!

Then, just a few weeks ago, David and Beks asked for a goodnight song and Sarah the San Franciso Whale suddenly jumped back into my mind. I pray that, somewhere, our old friend John is singing it to his grandchildren too.

Books:

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Reading “Go, Dog. Go” to uncle Joe

More than singing silly songs, David and Beks love to read. In fact, one of the top reasons Naomi drove them to Wake Forest Sunday was so David could read one of his books to Uncle Joe.

A couple of years ago Joe and Cheryl gave David a copy of “Go, Dog. Go” with the inscription, “My favorite book of all time – love, Uncle Joe.” It turned out to be one of the first books David learned to read all the way through and he’s been dying to read it to his uncle ever since.

1-IMG_5620-001Smiling. All day long. We don’t have to have a room full of people rolling in the aisles, we just have to love life and generously love the people we’re on this journey with.

Enjoy – Derek

 

 

 

 

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