It’s hard to believe that in August of this year, it will be two years since Mama died. If you asked my heart, it would say it hadn’t been that long, but the heart is the last to catch up with the rest of us in the grief process, and although it accepts the reality, it never really heals.
However, the holes and the voids left there remind us that even in the face of losses, we were enormously blessed to love and be loved. Tennyson was accurate when he penned this line to the poem In Memoriam A.H.H.: “‘Tis better to have loved and lost: Than never to have loved at all.”
So as I face the second Mother’s Day without Mama here, I decided to reflect on a small sample of the music that I will always associate with Mama. Either she sang it to us or it was near and dear to her heart. But when I hear this music, I see and hear the movie memories of Mama that I accumulated over the years.
Admittedly, I still have a hard time listening to any of Mama’s music without tears and, at times, that hole in my heart feeling like a fresh wound again. But there are smiles too as I can see and hear her in my mind’s eye as if we were together back in whatever points of time where this music had its place. Bittersweet.
Of course, no post on music I associate with Mama would be complete without including Glenn Miller’s “Three Little Fishies.” Mama sang this to us while we were growing up and we delighted in her animation and dead-on rendition of the vocals and we would ask her to sing it over and over. She carried that tradition on with her grandchildren who can now sing the lyrics as well we can.
I’ve posted before that Mama really liked Jim Reeves. While “The Blizzard” was her favorite, the other song I remember her singing a lot was “Welcome to My World.” I suspect that this song reminded her of Daddy and that’s why she loved it so much.
Nat King Cole was one of Mama’s favorites as well. While she and Daddy would serenade us with “When I Fall in Love,” on a regular basis during our childhood, Mama also had a strong affinity for “Mona Lisa.” I don’t know exactly why, but there is a sort of sad overtone to the song, so maybe it reminded her of her childhood rhythm-country-blues music roots.
Elvis Presley voice made Mama’s list too. But Mama did not like the rockabilly that characterized Presley’s early career. Instead, she liked his ballads and gospel. One song that I remember Mama liked a lot was “Are You Lonesome Tonight?”
When we’d take road trips that began at night, Daddy would turn on the radio and find a station that played music from the 1950’s and 1960’s and invariably at some point this song would play and Mama would sing along while we kids were either falling asleep or sleeping in the back seat. I can almost hear Mama’s voice when I hear this song.
And I could not end this tribute to Mama’s music without including “At Last” by Etta James. I can remember hearing this song quite often growing up.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mama. You and Daddy gave us an incredible gift when you filled our growing-up years with an incredibly extensive range of musical genres, voices, and styles.
And, you, Mama, more so than Daddy (who thought the most of the music we liked as teenagers and adults – I was into alternative music early so mine was probably what he liked least among the three of us – was “just a bunch of noise”), continued to embrace new music up until your death.
I can still see your smile watching and listening to me singing Adele and The Black Keys and your laughter at my rare attempts to also dance while singing them. I smile at the memories and I’m glad that I was able to give back that gift of music to you along the way.
I love you and I miss you, Mama. I’m looking forward to the day when we can continue adding new music to the Fields of Gold: A Love Story soundtrack of our lives. Until then, rest well.