I was hanging out with a friend this weekend and he asked me to read him some stories from my book/CD, the Vibration Project. It has been about 8 months since I wrote the book; I was looking at it with fresh eyes, almost as if the stories I was reading were about someone else.
When we got to the story about my grandfather and the song I wrote for him (or actually, truth be told, I think he wrote the song through and for me!), it brought a huge smile to my face as I reflected on how special he was and how much he taught me about living my life to the fullest, and loving unconditionally.
Grandpa Ellis’ Life Was Not an Easy One.
My grandfather’s mother struggled with paranoid schizophrenia. His wife, my grandmother, also had bouts with schizophrenia in her fifties and died of breast cancer shortly after. His second wife was a real challenge to live with, and when they were both in their late eighties, she had dementia. When she was hospitalized with a broken hip, her son convinced by her to write a note accusing Grandpa Ellis of cheating on her. She then left with her son, who put her in a home and there she died a few months later, never seeing or speaking to my grandfather again.
Despite these challenges, Grandpa Ellis never let life get him down and he was a huge inspiration to me on so many levels. So I decided to pay a tribute to my grandpa Ellis and share with you this story and the song I wrote for him from my CD/book Vibration Project. Here’s to you, Grandpa!
“By My Side” Excerpt from the Vibration Project book/CD
I wrote By My Side for my grandfather, Ellis Atkins. He was one of the most positive people I have ever known. A prime example of this positive attitude was after he had quadruple bypass surgery and he was recovering in the hospital. His lung had collapsed and he already had one glass eye, and only one kidney, but when I called him to see how he was doing, he answered the phone with a sparkling, ‘Yyello!! Ellis here!’ He never let life get him down. He taught me so much about finding the goodness in everyone and everything and about taking action from the heart.
Grandpa Comes to my Gig
One time he came to one of my early gigs at Cafe Sine in New York City. It was a tiny little cafe made famous by Jeff Buckley who used to do weekly gigs there for years. Grandpa Ellis showed up with his hearing aid and his red socks (he only had red socks because he said he liked the color red and if he only had one color, then he would never have to decide what color socks to wear with his outfit!).
Anyway, when I had finished playing, he grabbed the tip jar that usually remained pretty empty no matter who was playing, and loudly announced “folks, that’s my granddaughter up there. Isn’t she great? I’m sure you all want to show your appreciation for her skill, so I’m going to come around with this tip jar here, so you can do that.” Well, Grandpa Ellis made me a heck of a lot of money for me that night and had a whole lot of fun doing it!
Listen to “By My Side”: