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Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Music of Angels

*** I debated if this post was right for this particular blog... But, ultimately, I decided there were angels enough in this story. ***

A blogging friend of mine posted a touching post about music the other day and it got me reminiscing...

My daddy was a band teacher. When he was younger, he and his brothers sang in barbershop groups, played in a swing band, and sang at every family function. He sang me to sleep each night with old “standards” while he stroked my forehead with his thick, course hands. He filled our home with piano arrangements of songs like "Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue" and "Melancholy Baby." Music was a part of our home. Our life.

Many of my siblings are musical. Each has their own special musical prowess. My baby sister, especially. If anyone ever wanted to hear what an angel sounds like, they would only have to listen to her sing.

Me? Not so much. I think my ADHD attention span kept me out of that line in heaven. I love to sing. I love music. But I have no technical skill. No gift for it. But I FEEL it. My hubby can listen to a piece of music and identify all the different instruments and different rhythms. I just notice if it makes me move or think.

I have learned that everyone enjoys music in different ways... But one thing is sure... And that is that music is so very powerful. It has the ability to influence for good or bad. It can move a person to tears or make them dance with joy. I believe that there is a part of our beings that exist musically.

In the case of my sweet daddy, music helped him fight the debilitating effects of Alzheimer’s disease. My dad suffered with this heart-wrenching disease for about 20 years, the last 6 years being spent in a nursing home.

My mom, having been his sole care giver, suddenly had nothing to do once he was placed in a care center. Wanting to help and show her love to him somehow, and knowing how much my dad loved music, she would walk to his nursing home each day, hauling a keyboard behind her on a luggage carrier. (She herself was burdened down with the pain of osteoporosis)

Each day, she carted that keyboard to my dad's nursing home so he could play. And each day, though he couldn't remember her name, he played songs on the keyboard for my mom. Songs like he used to play on our home piano when I was little.

Eventually, the nursing home saw how important the music was to my dad and found an old piano to keep in the lounge for him to play. And my dad would play. The nurses loved my dad. Despite the fact that he would get ornery during personal hygiene routines, he won their hearts. In fact, one of his nurses, used to be one of his band students. (Talk about coming full circle)

Almost to the very end, even though my daddy had forgotten everything else, he remembered the music. It wasn't until a few months before he passed that he stopped playing... I think because he couldn't physically sit up to the piano.

I love that the ability to play piano and feel music was so engrained into my father that he couldn't forget it. I love that my mother, inspired by love, kept him playing as long as she could. And while I could have never admitted this at the time, she was my dad's angel.

Music is very powerful. And while I recognize that I may not have the gift for performing it... I also recognize the gift for enjoying it. And for that, I am grateful.

"Music is forever; music should grow and mature with you, following right on up until you die." -- Paul Simon


Michelle said...

what a wonderful impact music has had in your life. Thanks for sharing this memory.

Diane said...

Oh, dear sweet Kathy, I sit with tears streaming down my face as I read your post. I so understand the ravages of Alzheimers, having watched my maternal grandmother and then my own Mom suffer it's demise.

I can feel the love you had for your precious Dad and the love your Mom had for him and so galantly displayed in every step she made to and from that care center.

I am so thankful music was as much his angel as was your Mom. You're so right. Music can take us places we have forgotten how to go otherwise.

I love you my sweet friend. Thank you for this most endearing post. When I read it, I think of my Mom there in heaven humming right along as she did all the days of her life.

Many hugs...........


Debbie said...

I loved your post, it reminded me of my own Dad. I never knew my father, but my Mother has told me so much about him. His great love was music also and he loved Elvis (I now have his old Elvis albums). I feel his love of music continued on in me and it's comforting to have that trait of his. Music for me is so empowering and when I play the piano it takes me to a place that no one can go. I love music!

Fiauna said...

What a sweet post. The important thing about music isn't what you do with it, it's what the music does to you.