Recently I found myself re-reading some of my mother's writing done in the days before Alzheimer's took over. Today's entry in Words of My Mother reminds me of our shared love of music.
Mom grew up in the days of big band and she and my dad danced many nights away in their courtship days. Big band music was a constant presence in our home and every New Year's Eve my father would blast Sing,Sing,Sing by Benny Goodman on the stereo with the volume cranked up to 10 and the doors and windows open. Years later, while planning his funeral, my sisters and I agreed that the song had to be included. After discussions with the priest, he relented and the song blasted as we filed out of the church causing all of us to smile.
Mom & Dad are on the right side of the table at the beautiful Claremont in Berkeley.
She held on to the love of that music throughout her life. But she also exposed me to opera and musicals. I remember going to see Madame Butterfly with her as a very young girl. It was a special event on numerous levels: my first opera, special dress shoes, and time alone with mom without my three sisters.
And then there was the day she gave me the album of Peter and the Wolf. I fell in love with the music and would spend hours lying on the shag carpet next to my record player listening to it repeatedly from overture to ending losing myself in the story as told through each instrument. This is my strongest and earliest musical memory and I think it began what has been a lifelong interconnectedness with music.
In 1971 I remember she was the only mother I knew of who was listening to The Concert for Bangladesh, one of the first benefit concerts ever which was organized by George Harrison and Ravi Shankar, organized for the relief of refugees from East Pakistan after a cyclone struck in 1970 and during the 1971 Bangladesh atrocities.
Years later, Mom lived with us for the better part of a year. Music is always playing in my home and she tapped her foot right along with me through The Beatles, Blood,Sweat & Tears, Fleetwood Mac, Tower of Power, and Eric Clapton. One of my husband's favorite memories of the time Mom was living here was when we were watching the MTV Music Awards. I can't recall the category, but the presenter was rattling off the nominees. At the end of the nominees introduction , Mom turned to him and said, " I think TOOL should win." She was in her late seventies at the time.
Thank you, Mom, for the music.
Untitled by ~Mom~
I close my eyes and let the music swirl about me. Across my eyelids it glides and touches my lips with the gentleness of a spring rain as it brings life to the earth. It wraps around my body with the smooth feel of silk and I reach toward it with cupped hands that I might draw the sound deep into my soul. A slow, pulsing rhythm absorbs me and I flow into the earth until I am no longer I, but the universe.