Passing the Mantle

Last Thursday was the first anniversary of my mother’s passing.

All day long I toyed with what I could or “should” say on social media. I thought about all the tributes and photos that people place on Facebook at such a time, all the comments from friends and acquaintances alike who never met my mother, but who would in all probability post something kind or predictable.

I guess I’m just not a Facebook person, and frankly, I don’t know that I will ever be one of those people who advertise what they were thinking, eating, doing – although I acknowledge that for people of other generations, that is a perfectly good way to stay in touch.

However, since Mom’s passing, I have realized that I am now a Senior Citizen and therefore not compelled to act like a Millenial, Gen-X-er or Boomlet.  I am a BOOMER, and proud of it, and I still say VCR and ‘surf the web,’ which, according to http://www.dictionary.com, are several of the ten words that will show my age.  If I were they, I’d be less concerned about advertising my age than I would be to not recognize that ‘surf the web,’ ‘wet blanket,’ ‘Dear John letter,’ and ‘long distance call,’ are phrases and not simply words (of which the article declares there were supposed to be only ten).

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I just love those Piano Guys!

I just love ThePianoGuys….  In case you haven’t ever heard of them, they play all  kinds of music in all sorts of ways.  They play on the tops of mountains, in the Scottish Highlands, in ice caves, on the beach, in a fountain, near the seven wonders of the world. And they have so much fun!!

Watch as they give a concert for some elderly folks in a nursing home.  I started to tap my feet as I watched. Will you do that too? Continue reading

Through the Looking Glass – Sharing a Memory with Dad

Today is the composer Philip Glass’ 80th birthday, and I have been listening to his music all afternoon.

My dad loved Glass’ music way back in the 1970’s, but I couldn’t quite get into it at that time.  I thought it was bizarre, avant garde and discordant.  A lot of people agreed with me, and egg-throwing was not uncommon at his concerts.  They couldn’t understand it, and back then, neither could I.

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Music on the Brain

Get the Kleenex ready… I started crying quite a few times as I watched this video of the ‘Music and Memory’ project in Australia. 

Every morning when my mother was alive, I would come downstairs and put the radio on for her.  In addition to listening to the classical station, W-QXR, we would watch VCR’s of musicals including, “My Fair Lady,” “Gigi,” “Carousel,” “The Sound of Music,” “Camelot,” and many others.  Mama loved, “Fantasia,” and Disney was a genius in making that movie – it’s NOT just for kids!

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One Year Anniversary

Today marks the one year mark of my blog and the anniversary of Beethoven’s 246th birthday.  (See my first blog, Music Therapy.) I have just finished watching, “Immortal Beloved.” Again. This year, I shared some of it with my son.  You’re never too young or old to learn about Ludwig.

A whole year has gone by since I started writing about natural caregimmortal-beloved-dvdiving, and so very much has changed for me. I wouldn’t know where to begin, so I won’t. I don’t want to look back – I am facing forward. What I do understand though is that many of us put our focus on things that don’t really matter, things that seem to give us pleasure, but in the long run, are inconsequential. I’m glad I spent time with Mom, even if it did mean forsaking a lot of things I might otherwise have done. I received far more than I gave up.

As she would always say, “People are more important than things.” Amen.

 

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Long March Home

I am writing this in the midst of my mother’s “Long March Home.”

My sister called again this morning to talk and read to her. My Uncle and Aunt spoke to her from California and I know that my mother perked up and heard the love in all their voices. They will call again, and I am grateful for the peace they are helping to impart to my mother’s last days.

She is sleeping comfortably now, having refused all food and water for the past two days. She is in no pain, and of course she does not, nor will she, take any medication, so there is no need to call Hospice.  I had a lovely Christian Science nurse come for a visit yesterday to brief me on the finer points of caregiving (positioning, etc.), but other than that, it is a time of calm, quiet and tranquility. With no meals to prepare, I am at liberty to just concentrate on Mom and reflect on the sixty-five year history we have shared.

At the Beach 1956

I am surprised, and a little delighted, that the floodgates of my mind are opening and memories are just popping out of nowhere.  I choose to think about the happy times, not about the days or even hours to come. I don’t even want to think about my future without her in it.  There will be plenty of time for that, but the time is not now.

The radio is playing an opera that I’m not so crazy about, so I’m going to pop a CD into the stereo for us to listen to while I scan some photos.  I chose ‘WQXR’s 100 Best Classics,’  and a mix of selections including Beethoven’s Symphony No.6 (Pastoral). The notes fill the air with beauty, and as always, lift us up when we need lifting.  Classical music has been an integral part of our lives. We have several musicians in the family, and I sing whenever and wherever I can (the shower, the kitchen, the car) – even when the songs don’t have words.

A world full of music is my mother’s idea of Paradise. When I was maybe twelve or thirteen, she told me about her experience of dying in the hospital from complications arising from an ectopic or tubal pregnancy. My sister Andrea hadn’t come along yet, and I was about three years old at the time. Now you may doubt what I am about to say, but I have no reason to believe that Mom lied to me. It was something you just didn’t talk about back then; people would think you were crazy.  (This was before everyone started cashing in on the ‘out-of-body’ stuff.)

Mom said that she had the feeling that she was floating, floating above the room. She saw the doctors working on her, but she heard music in the distance – beautiful music unlike anything she had ever heard before.  She turned in the direction from which it was coming and started to walk.  Everything glowed and sparkled, the way it can after it rains. She recalled saying to herself, “Oh.  Is THIS what it’s like to die?”

sidney-e-pritchard

My Grandfather

Who knows how long she enjoyed that euphoric moment. But then, she had an overwhelmingly sad thought: “I can’t leave little Hillary alone!” And back she was in her body, facing pain and disappointment and loss and all the other human frailties.  Not for a day, but a lifetime.

She came back for me.

How could I do any less for her?  My mother. My teacher. My best friend.

She’s smiling now as she hears the familiar part her father first played for her on the phonograph when she was just four.  As she watched him Craftex the ceiling, he taught her the words to the scherzo melody in the Pastoral, “I see you, I see you, tra la la la la la. I see you, I see you, tra la la la la la…”

In her mind now, she’s dancing and skipping around the room.