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Connecting Through Music

Music soothes us and connects us in ways we can’t even begin to understand. It was always a part of my family’s life. Piano, guitar, violin, mandolin. Lots of family duets over the years.

My mom died at the age of 102, three months shy of her 103rd birthday. During that last week as the hospice nurse watched, we gathered around my mother’s bed and we sang. At first, she came up with the songs. Show me the way to go home, I’m tired and I want to go to bed. When she couldn’t sing anymore, she just listened. May the Good Lord bless and keep you. I sat by her bed, listening to her long slow breaths. Her sounds familiar, I've known them all my life.

On the last day, the morphine sedated her into a stupor. I brought out my father’s mandolin and sat by her bed and I sang her the songs of her youth, the Yiddish songs about children learning the alphabet un der rebe lernt kleyne kinderlekh, and about white goats and raisins. In dem Beis-Hamikdosh in a vinkl cheyder. I looked up and saw something amazing. Her mouth was opening and closing like she was trying to speak. She was mouthing the words with me. She could hear me, somewhere in there, she was still here. I stood up and looked into her eyes, her gaze was unbound like photons our intersecting hearts spiraled halfway to stardust.

We braced for the weight of her passing. We bring bones to where they belong. She left us with shadows, the memory of her hands, the way she looked at sunrise, the lesson of her breath and the gratitude she wrapped into her thin dying arms.

Participants’ Reflections

  • Reading was touching, I came from a musical family. It was very important. I lost music 40 yrs ago when my husband died. Brought me pain. I remember when music came back and brought me great joy.

  • I still have incredible pain when I go back to Jewish synagogue

  • My client who has dementia is slipping away quickly. In and out of reality. I wrote a title of a song down, Until we meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when.

  • Dane Veralyn died this week at 103, wrote that song, sang on the BBC to soothe people during covid pandemic there . There is clinical evidence that playing music for Alzheimer patients from their youth helps them to be reality based. Very touching to hear about you singing with your mother.

  • The client was saying goodbye and I’ll see you later. Years ago I got into sound healing with my voice. Music is energy, resonance, changes energy. Very valuable, becoming more and more understood.

  • Put in a plug for your band at church, the selection of music is so elemental in a positive way, a strong beat, transporting.

  • We belong to a Int’l folk band, I play percussion, she plays mandolin. When we play Hebrew, Russian irish songs brings me to tears.

  • Your reading was touching. It makes me cry because you had such touching experiences with your mom. I had difficulty with my mom. She did the best she could, it was difficult for her. I came to peace with her in the end, I wanted to be there for her. It was hard for me. I went to a church where the choir never looked at books, they sang to the congregation. It was touching, I felt it. I told one of the singers how I experienced them singing and she said “that what you see in me is you”. Before my sobriety, I never listened to song lyrics. Now I listen. I love the song “God is one of us.”

  • It also took my sobriety before I connected to my parents.

  • I’ve learned that how I behave is how I am teaching my kids. My son who is isolating from me is teaching isolation to his children.

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