Name That Tune

“All of her days have gone soft and cloudy, all of her dreams have gone dry.
All of her nights have gone sad and shady. She’s getting ready to fly.
Fly away, fly away, fly away, fly away. Where are my days, where are my nights? Where is the Spring? I wanna fly, I wanna fly…”
(1975) “Fly Away” – Recorded By: John Denver & Olivia Newton-John Composer: John Denver

Photo: Singing in Buffalo, NY (2005)

Music has been my life. It’s been my joy, my friend, my tool of praise, my vocation. I fell in love with music before I could speak, so I’ve been told. And it’s no wonder.

Music is an incredible creation. You will not find it listed among the created items in the beginning of Genesis, during the six day event we know as creation. Do you know why? Because music belongs to eternity past, prior to the universe display. Simply, it’s a Divine attribute. It belongs to God Himself.

Music has immense, long-lasting power. The human, and animal minds are its slave. The music staff, when filled, literally navigates the brain. Indeed, music has the strength to change a life, a wavelength, a thought. Even its soundwaves can destroy a glass, a wall, a notion. It is even a giant in the realm of therapy, to build up.

You might have bought a hamburger due to, “You deserve a great today, so get up and get away to McDonalds.” You might have purchased insurance due to hearing, “Wherever you’re driving, and wherever you’re bound, like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.” Do you still smell chicken in the air if I reminded you of, “… Goodbye ho-hum. Say hello to your family. Come on everyone. At Kentucky Fried Chicken, have a barrel of fun.” All written by, Barry Manilow during his hungry years.

Who could forget the TV theme song as Dick Van Dyke trips over the ottoman? If I wrote the lyrics, “Now come listen to a story about a man named Jed…”, would you suddenly see Buddy Ebsen shootin’ at some food? And if I mentioned, Andy Griffith and Ron Howard walking toward a pond with fishing poles, could you immediately hear the whistle of the theme song? I bet you’re hearing it right now. Am I right? If not, you are now.

That’s the long arm of a couple of bars of carefully crafted music notes within a time signature. Tones and arithmetic together can be called, magical.

Recently, it became an urgency to move my mom into our home. Her dementia cognitive levels are causing her personal leaves to fall. Over the past year, it became very clear she could no longer live by herself. She officially moved in with my wife and I the week of Thanksgiving of 2021. Although I watched her be a 24/7 caregiver to her mom, for about 13 years, it is so vastly different to actually BE the caregiver. There is a great learning curve to it all. We also have learned a lot about ourselves. We even learned how we must guard our marriage very carefully during the turmoil of caring for a dementia patient.

I am grateful my mom still has much of her mind still intact with some precious memories which have yet to let go of their branches. Still, names, places, and simple words go missing in the fog of cognitive struggles. However, there remains one large leaf clutching its branch with a strong grip, much like a boat’s anchor on a rope.

When my mom feels the time is right to take her walker to her bedroom for preparations on laying her head on the pillow for the night, I can always count on one thing. My wife follows her there each night as she faithfully assists in bed prep. As I began to do the same on the other side of the house, soon two lovely voices are adrift in the air, reaching my awaiting ears.

My mom looks forward each night to singing a selected hymn from her days gone by. She was, and still is, a terrific soprano. In fact, as I was growing up, she was a much sought after vocalist wherever we lived, singing mainly for churches, weddings and funerals. When I was about 9 years of age, we began doing duo work.

Photo: My mom & I. April 1963.

Nightly, the two of them agree on a hymn, and ring out a duo as my wife tucks her in. (A footnote here. My wife was raised Nazarene, and my mom was raised Baptist. Often, the two denominations did not share hymnals. The two of them decide which hymns to sing, Therefore, many are found to be unknown to my wife, as well as my mom, but they both can read music and have great ears.) At times, I will hear a hymn coming from her room I haven’t heard in five decades, or longer. But each time, I can still recall the melody, harmonies, and most of the lyrics. Music does that. I hate to “spiritualize” everything, but I will say, especially sacred music. Yes, there’s a God-thing going on.

My talents come from my mom, and her mom’s side of the family. They were an artsy clan. My mom has invited me to come make a trio out of the late night serenades, and maybe soon I will. But for now, I enjoy the smile it brings to my face whenever the familiar vocal, which once calmed this child, comes dancing through the air in search of my ear.

I know what you are thinking, and it’s okay. Just know that I know, these bittersweet days are precious. There is a song in her heart because she is simply preparing to fly away.

Your song of the heart can be found in fuel for the race.

The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV)

21 Replies to “Name That Tune”

  1. What a lovely, sweet way to end the day. Your family will be in my prayers…I can only imagine the challenges you’re all facing.

    My kids and I have started singing hymns as part of our daily school. Attitudes and emotions seem to straighten and settle when we include, as you put it, sacred music. Hearing their voices raised in praise…well, it makes my heart swell too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The last time I saw my mom, I played on her piano her favorite hymn “tis so sweet to trust in Jesus” as she was about to go to her bedroom with the walker and I was leaving for my home 5 hours away. A bigger smile than I ever remember her giving took over her face. 40 hours later she met Jesus. Music fills so many gaps in our lives and it’s substance comes from our creator

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Such a dear, poignant post which truly touched my heart. What bittersweet joy you must feel listening to that nightly duet of those meaningful hymns. It reminds me of my sweet grandmother who lived with us until she passed on to Glory when I was nine. She and I would sit together in her rocking chair and sing one hymn after another. Every time I hear those, I think of her singing in heaven. Even though I’m not much of a musician (I can play piano if the music is in front of me), music “lives” in my head. I can recall song lyrics better than other things I should remember. Back in my pre-retirement years, a young co-worker and I would “compete” with music. One of us would say a word – any word – and the other would immediately start singing a song with that word in the lyrics. May your time with your mother be blessed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, dear lady, I love the idea of the music game you and your co-worker played. Music can do that very well. Those are dear memories with your grandmother. Often hymns of our childhood can deliver tears for me. God’s grip – Alan

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You are so right…these bittersweet days are precious! My sister and I cared for my mother in our homes for almost a year and a half. We did take turns, which was also a blessing for my mother. That way, she spent time with each of us and our families. She especially loved spending time with the great-grandchildren. Looking back, I would not trade those hours because they are fleeting. My mom still made me laugh… No one will ever take the place in your heart that a mom does…she has her own special place. I am praying for you because I know it is not easy. But later, you will count all the blessings of these hours. And now, you should sing along at night with the hymns…you will all be uplifted. Beautiful post!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I agree that music is a gift straight from God, and it connects us to him and to each other. I’m so glad your mom can still enjoy singing hymns….that’s a great comfort to all three of you. Enjoy these precious days!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I missed this one. Music, as you may guess from posts past, is a big part of my life. So many memories have a soundtrack for me, many my parents and grandparents introduced me to. Now, I am having the pleasure of watching my kids pick up on the same. My grandmother-my dad’s mom and my last living grandparent- is dealing with dementia as well. She is in a care facility down in Texas, so it is not every day, but there are frequent visits. When they see each other, the two of them do something similar as your mom and wife. It is amazing the comfort it is. Blessings and prayers, friend.

    Liked by 1 person

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