Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hopes of recovery, listening to Pat Martino and making strudel

When the anesthesia wore off, Pat Martino looked up hazily at his parents and his doctors. and tried to piece together any memory of his life.

One of the greatest guitarists in jazz. Martino had suffered a severe brain aneurysm and underwent surgery after being told that his condition could be terminal. After his operations he could remember almost nothing. He barely recognized his parents. and had no memory of his guitar or his career. He remembers feeling as if he had been "dropped cold, empty, neutral, cleansed...naked."

In the following months. Martino made a remarkable recovery. Through intensive study of his own historic recordings, and with the help of computer technology, Pat managed to reverse his memory loss and return to form on his instrument. His past recordings eventually became "an old friend, a spiritual experience which remained beautiful and honest."

Mosaic Woman and I went out to see Pat Martino play guitar on Friday night. I am humbled by this experience. My hands that are connected to a brain, that oh so loves music, have made very little music themselves. And here is a man who learned twice, and both times became one of the best.
The last time my grandmother made me strudel was the first time I was her student. Shortly there after she had a stroke from which she struggled to recover. My grandmother did not lack the desire to heal, but it proved to be beyond her effort. In my mind she gave up her life after failing to recover and I respect her for her fight to recover and her letting go of life. Every time fall comes along and I dedicate a day to making strudel for my family, I marvel at having moved back to Pennsylvania and asking to learn a family tradition in such a timely manner.
I imagine Pat Martino listening to the music he made, but unable to perform it. Where would his life had gone if he failed at relearning how to play guitar.
I try to imagine my grandma seeing me make strudel. I am hoping she is pleased. I am in possession of a card I drew for her. I am not sure why I have it. I am blessed to have hands that can make art and strudel. I try to imagine a situation in which I would have to reemerge into my own life and I hope I have the strength and desire to do it...


  1. Amazing story, Wayne. It is quite remarkable, the human spirit. My dad played guitar, taught me to chord. but never did I achieve any great skill at it. What did stay with me is a love of banjo, fiddle, mandolin, bluegrass, folk, etc. A little strudel while listening wouldn't be bad, either....

  2. Jim--- I have found that strudel is a universal good

  3. As always, Stratoz, you incorporate the wonder with the daily. So nice to pop in and leave as spiritually nourished as if I'd shared your grandmother's streudel.

  4. Beryl--- thanks for your kind words. What a hoot it would be to make strudel for all my blogging friends

  5. What a story! Life is so very fragile.

    Your grandma left you a wonderful legacy didn't she? How great that you showed up to receive it.



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