the music

Day 4 :: The Music        

prompts from

as a self conscious, self absorbed, normal 13 year old, i could hear her contralto voice ringing above the entire congregation. i wanted to slip away from her, sliding under the lutheran pew or at least to the end of the row. the vibrato, the passion, the volume, the long held soaring notes spotlighted everything that i wasn’t.

i see her tiny frame, chin up, processing down the long aisle of st. margaret’s with white robe flowing, stainless cross hanging from a satin cord, requisite black shoes, arms extended holding her hymnal. as an adult, i see her differently as she sings from her heart, her belly, quite possibly from her soul.

two years ago the stroke took away her words and some of her understanding. it took her freedom, her perspective, her life as she knew it.

monday’s, almost without fail, we go to Backstrokes, a circle for anyone who has had a stroke and their families. three women from a care facility, two with limited speech. a man in a wheelchair, only able to say his name. a native american man and his wife, always with a hand drum. a young woman and her dog, “brother.” a retired judge, able to use only her right hand. ukuleles, a harmonica or a tiny banjo, a guitar, a melodica and a basket full of shakers.  

for an hour she is lost in the music as she sings leonard cohen’s hallelujah. don’t fence me in. these boots were made for walking. i did a double take the first time she sang wish you were here by pink floyd. her toes tap, sometimes her eyes close, she shakes her rattle and hits every note. not with the words, but with her aging contralto. it is then that i want to slip closer to her, to hear the sound of music.  (and oh my, that sounds cheesy!)

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