Music as comfort: Lenora's story

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about what music means to me.  It’s hard for me to articulate because I haven’t had a profound experience or made a career out of it- I just like it a lot.  I asked readers to let me know how their lives have been impacted by music, hoping that I would be able to share some of their stories.  I heard from quite a few people.  Here is one of those stories.

One of the most impactful things about music is its ability to connect people who are no longer together.  Why else would hearing that special song after a breakup cause a Ben & Jerry-worthy backslide?  But sometimes music can allow us to feel connected in a good way to someone who is no longer with us.  ChicagoNow blogger Lenora Rand, author of Spiritual Suckitude (possibly the most awesome blog name ever), shared the story of how her family still feels the spirit of her mom through music.

My mom died three years ago at 87.  A year or so before she died, she had asked my husband to sing a solo at her church when we were visiting her and my dad. She requested this old hymn (“Softly and Tenderly”) she loved. Gary sang it and afterwards, my mom told him that was the song she wanted him to sing at her funeral. She said it in a funny, jokey way…we all laughed and he said he would. And then she went around to all her old lady friends and bragged that her son in law was gonna sing that song at her funeral. You had to know my mom, but it was…cute…

When Lenora’s mother became ill a year or so later, she and her family tried to be with her as much as possible- a daunting task considering Lenora, her husband and two high school aged daughters live in the Chicago area and her mother lived in Oklahoma.  As is often the case, Lenora’s husband shouldered extra responsibility, trying to balance work and manage more than usual around the house during the months when his mother-in-law was sick.

But my husband had this great idea — he decided to make a quick video of the song she had loved so much, and then put it on YouTube. So we shared it with my mom, sitting next to her in her bed, we played the video for her on my sister’s iPad.  And, at her request, played it again and again, several times a day, before she died. In fact, the morning she finally passed away, my sister had the song playing on her phone, just played it over and over, kind of like you would to help a baby go to sleep.

Lenora says she still watches the video from time to time, remembering how much it helped her mom.  But the familial tribute to her mom doesn’t end there.  A few months after Lenora’s mom died, her daughter Hannah wrote a song to her grandmother.  Here is a video of Hannah performing the song, “Going Home,” while attending a summer performance workshop.  The talent of the song writing, piano playing and singing astound me.

Do you have a story about how music has impacted you?  Share it with me at musicmom.chicagonow@yahoo.com

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