Music

About Arthur Groves

My grandfather’s name was Arthur Groves. I can’t think of anyone I’ve ever met that I admired more than him. Sometimes it’s hard to put your finger on just what it is about someone that makes them so real, so alive, and so deeply embedded in who you are – but that is who my grandfather is to me.

 
My niece, Karin Gottshall, is a wonderful poet. In her poem, “The Surface,” she writes about many of the same kinds of experiences that I had with Grandpa. Her poem, and my song, “Arthur Groves,” were both written, I think, within a few months of each other, maybe thirty years after his passing. Neither of us knew about the work of the other to share our love for him.

The Surface
by Karin Gottshall
From her 2007 book, “Crocus”
After Ypres, the mustard gas, at eighteen sick
and shell-shocked, my great-grandfather went home
to Canada and never spoke of soldiering his whole
 
life long. Nor would he again leave the lake town
where he found work delivering mail, crossing
the frozen surface in winter, bundled to the eyes

in his wife’s homespun. His life was biscuits
and tinned milk, an ice-fishing shed and the blue uniform
of the Canadian Post, Ontario’s deep snows

and smooth rocks like half-buried bones. He built
a cottage on the shore and when we visited in summer sat
on the porch, smiling. Once he took me a mile out

or more in his little boat, his pockets filled
with toffees, and showed me how the water there
was so deep, so clear, a polished lens – the wreckage
 
of a fishing-skiff like a child’s toy, the boulders
graspable as skipping stones. A few months later
he died quietly, in his sleep. Gone to live, I thought,
 
below that liquid, muffling surface we’d rested on,
the world where words are silver bubbles and the currents,
without reference to the wind, gently rock the weeds and ruins.

2 comments on “About Arthur Groves

  1. Sandra Olin

    Your love of music and unusual talent is a gift from your Grandpa I think 😘

    Sent from my iPhone

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, Sandy. I think you are right that the music is from him. I remember him as always whistling WWI marching tunes while he was puttering around on some project. My mom recently told me that he would bring the whole family (and the families of his siblings, too) and get together at Bass Lake, just outside of Orillia, their home town. They’d build a campfire there, and sit around singing some of those same marching songs — maybe that’s why I love campfire singing so much. He was also an exceptional coronet player, practicing daily until late in his life. What I realize now is that the world is a better place when we make music. It was always a better place when I was around him, and much of that time there was music, even if it was just a whistled tune that we all knew…

    Like

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