About a week and a half ago I was watching a televised concert, and started singing along to one of the songs. Tears quickly began streaming down my cheeks as I realized that I was sitting exactly as my mother would have been sitting, and singing just the way she would have been singing — in fact, I even sounded like her. How I cherish times like that, even though they bring tears.
My mother brought so much richness into my life, richness of word and music, of poetry and lyric, of love and laughter. She had one of the most beautiful smiles I have ever seen, and as a friend said of her, even in her last couple of years in the nursing home, if you walked into her room to visit, her face would light up and you would feel as if you were the person she most wanted to see in the entire world.
Many people remember their mothers reading to them when they were very young. What I remember was my mother singing to me. I can still remember the sound of her voice singing the lullaby, “Sweet and Low.” She also sang Gilbert & Sullivan, sacred music (she was a soloist much in demand in our area), and ballads that she’d learned as a child. For her 80th birthday I wrote a poem that stated “for where you are, there’s music.”
Where she was there were also books. Mum nearly always had a book in her hand. Until the final month and a half of her life, when a broken shoulder sustained in a fall made it too uncomfortable to hold a book, she read nearly constantly.
While she was in her second last nursing home, I loaned her one of my books, and it particularly appealed to her. She just loved it. The book? The Great American Mousical. I would be talking to her on the phone, and she would cut the conversation short, saying, “I have to get back to my Mousical.” I still find this delightful.
Because of her love of this book, today — November 14th — on the second anniversary of my Mum’s death, I will be in the audience at the Norma Terris Theatre in Connecticut, experiencing The Great American Mousical as a tribute to my favorite lady, my Mum. And now, I have to get back to my Mousical…
Remembering Lilian Mary McLaughlin Beavis Stilborn
April 5, 1921 – November 14, 2010
Note: I will have limited internet access this week. I look forward to reading and responding to your comments next week.