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Lawrence WelkPosted Friday, September 18, 2009, at 2:44 PM
My parents are 88 years old and live in the same room at a nursing home in Evansville, Indiana.
Both are now confined to wheelchairs. They are very happy together despite all the issues with their failing health.
Several years ago I gave them a cell phone. My father still keeps it in his pocket, always ready to talk whenever a family member calls. And we've discovered one guiding principal regarding our phone calls to my parents.
Never call on Saturday night when Lawrence Welk is on television.
For those of you born more recently than I, the Lawrence Welk Show was on television from the late 1950s until the early 1980s, both on ABC and later in syndication. The old man would stand with his baton and exclaim, "And a one and a two," while the champagne bubbles would fill the screen.
An hour in length, there would be a variety of music and dance that always delighted people of my parents' generation.
The PBS station in Evansville broadcasts repeats of those old Lawrence Welk shows nearly every Saturday night. My parents faithfully watch those shows. Over the years they've seen each show scores of time.
That's not important; when Lawrence Welk is on, nothing else matters.
I usually call my parents on Sundays.
"How was Lawrence Welk last night?" I'll hear how exciting it was to hear his band, see Joanna on the piano, and watch Bobby dance.
There is just a joy and contentment in their voices despite all my teasing.
"Lawrence Welk has been dead for decades!" "You've seen that show a dozen times."
These statements of mine don't matter. In fact, this is the only subject on which my parents have ever told me that I'm wrong! With her dementia my mother believes that Old Lawrence must still be alive conducting that band. My father simply laughs because he knows how much it pleases her to see these shows.
I've come to appreciate unvoiced reasons why my parents are so faithfully dedicated to these programs. In spite of all the physical changes over which they have no control, life is still good because Lawrence Welk is going to be on.
Despite all the changes in the world, life is still dependable because Lawrence Welk is going to be on.
My mother was a pianist that was offered a chance to tour the world with a band that featured Doris Day; seeing Joanna each week allows her to relive that joy of playing. My father sang and danced in his college days before World War II; when I look at pictures of my father from those days I can see the close resemblance between he and Bobby.
Their experiences and dreams can still be revisited because of television shows that were recorded decades ago.
I've come to appreciate that the old Lawrence Welk shows are still being shown. Rather, I've come to appreciate how important those shows are to a great number of people of my parent's generation.
And maybe I can now explain why I buy the DVDs of shows I watched decades ago: "Jonny Quest," "Bullwinkle and Rocky," "The Wizard of Oz," "Star Trek."
Maybe these are the shows of my generation.
May we all have such comfort.
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P.T. Wilson is the senior pastor at Gobin Memorial United Methodist Church, Greencastle, and is also the University Chaplain at DePauw University.