I can't hold a tune, I don't understand chords, hated the piano and don't know the right words to most songs. That doesn't matter, music has a way of reaching inside and touching all of us in different ways and we experienced that with great surprise and joy on Christmas Day.
The whole family went over to Peggy's yesterday and we brought presents for her, and gifts for her care takers. I expected the same sad, nothing response from Peggy that has been the norm lately. Sunny had been practicing her ukulele at home and we were running late. I told her she didn't have to stop, she could just bring it along (secretly hoping, she might play for Nana and some of the other residents at the party.) When we got there she wanted to leave it in the car. She didn't want me to FORCE her to play in front of everybody, which I NEVER do, I only beg. I promised her I wouldn't and I didn't. I actually thought it would distract her from the odd smells, the unpleasantness of the details, and the scariness of what Alzheimer's has done to her Nana that she is so keen to notice now that she is almost twelve. Gidget who is seven bounds into the place. She jumps on the bed, touches everything, hugs Nana, dances around and enjoys visiting, even if it might only be for the slight chance of sneaking a piece of candy.
We tried to act normal as if Peggy could hear us, see us or even understand us. Then a couple of notes started to fill the room. Sunny tuned her strings with my iPhone and looked up classic Christmas songs... and then a Sing-a-Long magically appeared. It lifted us out of the awkward and unfamiliar place that Alzheimer's has placed us. Each song took out the details of that room and into another dimension of memory, feeling and love along with the details of my life that the music rendered. Allen crooned Silent Night which made me cry, as I remembered snowy winters and luminaries lighting up the night as we caroled our way through my neighborhood growing up in Wheaton, IL and lucky I felt to share my life with his beautiful voice. Gidget re-enacted her second grade Holiday Concert with flair and adorable hand motions, the memories she will have of her happy times at Carpenter Elementary School just forming. And Peggy! She came to life, smiled and tried to sing to Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Which we sang more than once and exaggerated every note with glee. Before we left, Sunny sang her own sweet rendition of All I Want for Christmas is You and I swelled with love and hope that music will be her guide and friend that she can rely on to get her through all the details of this lovely, sad, and wonderful life.
Happy Holidays dear friends and family. Keep singing, laughing, crying and being there for each other, because that's what memories are made of.