As I write this, I’m staring at a photograph of my lovely Mum, taken at my wedding with my best woman Becky. The photo stands on the windowsill behind the desk, a constant reminder of one of the happiest days of my life. Of course, an image like that can’t stand alone. Inevitably, as I gaze at Mum shining brightly in December 2000, I can’t escape thoughts of Mum as she is today. Now, this isn’t going to be a maudlin, downbeat post, bemoaning what we as a family have lost in the intervening 13 years. The photo in question often makes me smile, makes me think of the love and guidance Mum gave me over so many years. It’s a positive, not a negative but…. . But, although she’s still my Mum and our times together remain precious, I miss that Mum. I can’t help it.
But sometimes, just sometimes, that Mum is still with me. She was in good spirits when I visited this week. We sang together as usual and a song from her past (and my childhood) brought us together in the way only music can these days. Last time I was with her, I played this song “Pickin’ a Chicken” (I kid you not) by Eve Boswell.
It was one of the songs on 78 my grandparents passed on to me and it has been a part of my musical life as long as I can remember. It’s certainly not a candidate for the “101 Songs Which Changed the World” but it’s catchy and has a certain, innocent charm and Mum and I used to sing along to it years ago. I played it to her recently and her face was blank.
“You love this song Mum.”
“Don’t you remember it?” I never usually use the word remember as it seems too cruel to someone with Alzheimer’s but where music is concerned, I make an exception.
“No.” Her face was blank.
The song played but Mum was somewhere else. Another link gone.
This week, though, as the opening bars sounded, Mum’s face lit up and, unprompted by me, she started to sing the chorus. She wasn’t word perfect but, feet-tapping away, she seemed at one with the music.
“I get a feeling that forever you’ll be/Pickin’ a Chicken with me” (I think I suggested it wasn’t profound).
The years dropped away and the look of joy on Mum’s face will stay with me forever. Whether it was her feat in recalling the words, or whether the song had unlocked feelings mostly inaccessible these days, I don’t know but it was a magical moment for us both.
I know I’ve written about the power of music before but I couldn’t resist doing it again.
Briefly, Eve Boswell and her chicken brought Mum back to me.