Mom would wake to a fresh cup of tea at her bedside by either my father or one of us. I’d tiptoe up to her night table, careful not to disturb her. If I did, I’d have to be firm about a quick chat as I was always tardy and planned every second before heading out the door.
Like those mornings, there were many conversations that we didn’t finish.
Today, on what would have been Mom’s eighty-first birthday, I’m grateful to have had those exchanges. Though I wish I remembered those talks in detail, the content was secondary to connecting.
Mom was quite fond of music. She was gifted with a lovely voice, sang in our church choir and for weddings, and eventually joined a choral group. She even serenaded my husband and me at our wedding reception. I shared Mom’s love of music, attended many concerts, and now own a score of Handel’s Messiah, which Mom gifted to me.
As Mom’s illness progressed, the breadth and length of our chats changed. Despite this, her love for music sustained her. The stereo or a CD often played in the background during my visits. Even in her last days in the hospital, unable to speak, she’d tap her fingers to a song. Those lyrics weren’t as important anymore, but the melody, comforting and familiar, were.
Mom left behind a box of sheet music and some complete musical scores. I sifted through them, keeping some favorites, and donated the bulk to a local music program and choirs. “Put those things to good use,” Mom would have said, so I did. There’s a stack of recorded choral concerts including some solos of Mom and a compilation of hymns recorded for a fundraiser.
I’m grateful to have those memories of Mom. What we lost in the words that linked us, we found in music. Now each time I play those recordings, it’s like having her with me again.
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