The girls and I were on vacation in Los Angeles exploring the city and shopping. I allowed them to pick a few souvenirs as we shopped different stores. M really wanted a Ukulele she spotted at the beginning. I told her to explore more, and we could come back and get it at the end if she really wanted it.
After two days, M still had her heart set on the Ukulele, so we went back in the shop to buy it. It was a cheap, blue toy Ukulele with flowers on it, but she loved it. I took it out of the package for her, and then she began to strum it. I had a flashback of her dad wanting to purchase a Ukulele on our honeymoon in Hawaii. We were at an outdoor market with lots of artisans, and he saw it and wanted it. He ended up buying it, and we still have it today. The kids play with it now. He never learned to play it like he could play the guitar, but it was on his list to learn one day. That Ukulele is very dear to the kids’ hearts since it was their dad’s and just the perfect size for their little bodies.
I looked down at that sweet girl playing her new, blue Ukulele, and realized she was hoping the Ukulele strings would provide a connection to her dad. Probably missing him on a vacation with just the three of us. Spending time with friends who had complete families with husbands and seeing all the families at the beach resort probably made her feel disconnected and missing him. I had forgotten that it may appear odd a mother with her two children vacationing at a beach, but maybe my children hadn’t forgotten. I had gotten use to the man behind us in line always assumed to be the fourth in our group and having to correct the ticket taker. I had moved on to just the three of us and all the places we could explore, but maybe M wasn’t there yet. She was still longing and disconnected. Her mind wandering, she strummed into the night trying to find the right tune to heal her broken heart.
The next day at the airport in one of the stores in the middle of a crowd, M sat down on the floor and pulled out the Ukulele that had been tucked in her backpack and played it while calling out, “daddy, daddy,” confirming what I had thought. I smiled at her and asked her if she missed her dad. She smiled and nodded yes back.
It was time to catch our plane. As we walked down the airport hallway, a woman in her 20s walked up to M and showed her a Ukulele still in the box she had purchased and said “that’s cool you have a ukulele. I bought one too!” They both smiled at each other.
And then I saw how everything was connected. These simple Ukulele strings connected us to a random stranger, M to her father, me to his memory, and created a deeper connection between me and M. And if the simple strings of a Ukulele provide such deep and new connections, what other connections are out there if we stop to listen to the strumming of the Ukulele?