I had my very own big brown radio when I was really young. It was in my bedroom and it hummed constantly, but you could still hear the songs over the hum. I’d be so happy when Tom Jones’ “She’s a Lady” or “My Sweet Lord” by George Harrison came on.
Then, Don McLean’s Bye, Bye Miss American Pie came out and I’d sing it for hours while swinging in the back yard. As my elementary school years advanced, “Leaving on a Jet Plane” sung by Peter, Paul, and Mary came out, and all of the girls on the school bus sang it every morning as loud as we could until the bus driver threatened to quit. We thought he was enjoying our chorus. We were wrong.
I took violin lessons in elementary school, guitar lessons in middle school, and always wanted to play the piano. (Maybe in my next life) I joined the middle school chorus where we made two albums. A few years ago, I tracked down my chorus teacher and he converted them into CDs for me. Then I converted the CDs into MP3’s and play them in my car. Recently, I’ve been taking drum lessons, and just ordered a ukulele which I hope to learn to play with a music teacher friend who plans to teach us remotely.
My mother played the piano and the accordion, and was a terrific singer at home and in church. She used to play the Roger Miller album and got us hooked on the song “King of the Road” where we would all sing and dance in the living room.
When she was in the nursing home, I arranged to have a music therapist visit her often. The therapist played the guitar and sang Mom’s favorite songs. She brought along a slew of other instruments and engaged my mother by encouraging her to play along. It was a highlight for Mom and me, and I never missed a session.
Mom died last summer after contracting an upper respiratory illness. Two hours before she died, the Chaplin Rabbi at her facility came into her room and played the guitar, and we all sang her favorite songs. I hope she heard us singing in her honor.
Today is her birthday. Although I miss her kindness, her sense of humor, the love she shared for her family and friends, and her never-ending bravery for facing life’s challenges, I’m glad she is not here during this catastrophe that we’re fully engulfed in. I’m not sure how the universe would have kept me away from her at her facility. I’m glad I don’t have to find out.
I celebrate her today and thank her once again for the motherly love and guidance she gave so selflessly.
I like to think that I’m handling this uncertainty the way she would.
With acceptance and hope.