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More gifts from family.

Posted by frailin on Sunday, December 28, 2008

On Tuesday December 16th, the day before Singleton Street played its yearly (traditional) "A Bluegrass Christmas" service at my church here in Rosemount, MN, my cousin Raleigh called and said he had something for me.  But I had to meet him in Rochester, MN (90 minutes away) if I wanted to get it.

Boy, was I in for a wonderful surprise!


As most of you know, my mom has advanced Alzheimer's and is in a nursing home in Cedar Rapids, IA.  Mom was a key figure in the childhood many of my cousins growing up in Early, IA. You can't be an organist for 55 years in a church in a farm town of 400 without someone having to eventually check in with you for a wedding, or a funeral, an anniversary or to accompany some HS student at music contest.  My mom did all those things... and many more.  Her service efforts focused around family, church and community.

When Raleigh married my cousin Joey, mom (and dad) quickly took to him and made him feel welcome.  Raleigh has always remembered that.  So when I asked Raleigh to make a memorial for my mom, he agreed. 


Raleigh is good at many things.  Aside from being a great 4-string banjo player, bush pilot, deer rancher and humanitarian, he's good with wood! I asked him to make a music stand in memory of my mom. Church was so important to her, I wanted something that would be there, contributing to the service... something I could see that would remind me of her every Sunday. 

So this cold, snowy December Tuesday morning in Rochester, Raleigh and I are sitting in a McDonalds sipping coffee as he's showing me this extraordinary piece... made to honor the service and memory of my mom.  It took my breath away.


The wood in this stand is cherry... probably 70 years old, from Allamakee County, IA (grown on Raleigh's farm). The design and engineering are Raleigh's. He studied pictures of music stands online and then did the math himself. 


The stand was made with "period" tools... no lathes, nothing fancy.  He used chisels and draw saws to give it character.  He also let the wood grains "talk" to him and he could let its beauty show. 



Even the auger pieces he did by hand!  And there are little leather washers in there to help everything fit snug.


Raleigh spent about 80 hours making this piece. He said he thought a lot about my mom and her character while building.  Mom likes character in people! So Raleigh left in the endearing marks and traits he thought helped define this piece... and my mom.



So if you look closely at the picture below showing Singleton Street performing at the Rosemount UMC Bluegrass Christmas service (the very next day after meeting Raleigh in Rochester), check out the music stand under the microphones.  Raleigh wanted me to have it in time that we could be the first to use my mom's memorial for this special service.  Mom would be so pleased! 


What a great gift... just in time for the promises of Christmas!

I love my family! 


PS - This is a picture I took during this morning's church service (12/28/08).  Pastor Brooke is 6' 2" tall.  I took it to show Raleigh how well the extension works when pushed to the limit! Thanks again for the stunning, loving tribute, Raleigh... from everyone that mom touched.   


18 comments on “More gifts from family.”

Cottonmouth Says:
Sunday, December 28, 2008 @11:30:44 AM

Craig, You are truly blessed with family and friends close-by! The music stand is beautiful and will be a lasting memorial honoring your Mother. Ken

Jane C Says:
Sunday, December 28, 2008 @11:42:58 AM

That is so beautiful Craig, truly a loving work of art.

randyblair Says:
Sunday, December 28, 2008 @12:33:45 PM

That's a great stand makin a stand for your mom Craig.  Raleigh surely has put his heart and soul into this tribute ...Thanks for sharing the story and pictures...truly a real Christmas present!  The heart in action. 

banjotef Says:
Sunday, December 28, 2008 @1:27:53 PM

Beautiful,  and fabulous workmanship!  

Johnboy109 Says:
Sunday, December 28, 2008 @2:02:47 PM

So few craftsmen left in the world. And knowing the provenance of the piece makes it priceless.

bob gregory Says:
Sunday, December 28, 2008 @9:13:09 PM

Wow what a craftsmen he did your mum proud,something to keep for ever..

LParker Says:
Tuesday, December 30, 2008 @9:53:38 AM

you can see the love and devotion he put into making that beautiful music stand

rperkins Says:
Thursday, January 1, 2009 @11:07:24 AM

Thanks for sharing the story of your mother. Being new to BHO, I had no idea about her. The craftmanship of your cousin Raleigh is outstanding. The stand is quite a fitting tribute and something to be proud of.

the tattooed man Says:
Thursday, January 1, 2009 @12:23:32 PM

The most valuable gifts by far are those which are given from the heart with love. That pretty, cleverly crafted little music stand seems to me to be just as full of love as it is of cherry wood and speaks volumes of the maker / giver and his respect and feelings for your mum. ( We spell mum with a "u" in Australia) You are right to feel both grateful and proud. 

Voyageur Says:
Friday, January 2, 2009 @7:35:55 AM

Craig, thanks for sharing the story and photos. What a beautiful work of art in honor of a beautiful person. The way your mother lived her life reminds me of the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi. It would take a lot of courage to say that prayer and really mean it. It's not a recipe for an easy life and requires an unselfishness few people have. Obviously your mother is that kind of person.(Here is a link:

jkerr Says:
Saturday, January 3, 2009 @1:35:45 PM

Thanks for sharing both the story and the absolutely beautiful music stand - the stand reflects the beauty and honor of holding music close to our hearts!

rupedog Says:
Wednesday, January 14, 2009 @6:51:24 PM

What a wonderful memorial to someone that obviously touched many people through music.  Thanks for sharing the images and story. 

banjo_robb Says:
Thursday, February 5, 2009 @1:52:55 PM

What a precious, thoughtful memorial, Craig!  I can 'feel' the love coming from that wonderful music stand.  You are a blessed man.  Reading your blog was truly heart-warming. 

PyrPups Says:
Thursday, February 5, 2009 @2:27:26 PM


From one who's heart has walked through the exact same circumstances, that work of art is truly a befitting shrine to Mom.  Just placing a sheet of music on it will have special connotations for generations to come.

egyptlove3 Says:
Sunday, February 8, 2009 @3:18:28 PM

that stand is sooo gorgeous! I wish that guy could make all my furniture, but I'm only 22 and I don't want to be in debt...

Retropicker Says:
Wednesday, February 11, 2009 @4:50:30 AM

A great peice from a great person for a great person.

Things like this are soo good in the midst of all the negative issues facing us daily. Love it!


BTW, make sure you dont nap during service, your pastor can give you a lickin'! Fr. Driscoll has nothing on her! She looks like a good soul.

slowlybutsurely Says:
Thursday, February 12, 2009 @4:20:47 PM

That is truly cool. Everything about that peice is pure heart...just as you described your Mom!

krispicking Says:
Sunday, February 15, 2009 @7:05:41 AM

what an awesome tribute to your mum, I can relate to your feelings, my mum passed away a month ago, a mother is very special! I miss mine very much, made a song for her, that was my tribute to her

I must say that stand is absolutely stunning, I love the wood it is made from, a job well done!

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