“South Pacific” has opened in New York, a revival of a classic American musical — and the great reviews in The New York Times and on National Public Radio are making me sad and wistful.
My Mom used to fill our house with music — all the time. She’d sing songs from musicals — “I’m going to wash that man right out of my hair,” “Doe, a deer, a female deer…” “I’m as corny as Kansas in August, high as a flag on the Fourth of July,” “Oh you cain’t get a man with a gun” — and the whole house kind of lilted and danced. The Public Radio story played many of the songs from “South Pacific” and I found I remembered every syllable of the lyrics. Can’t remember my own name some days, but Bonnie Raitt’s dad John singing about a surry with a fringe on the top from “Oklahoma” or Mary Martin declaring “I won’t grow up” from “Peter Pan” I’ve still got down.
We buried my Mom two weeks ago. My brother David chose “Some Enchanted Evening,” from “South Pacific,” for one of the violinists at Mom’s funeral to play. It was cool — and the last song at the service was “The Sound of Music.” Along with singing, Mom had played the violin since she was a girl, and I remember our dachshund, Hildie, sitting up and howling while Mom played her fiddle — accompaniment or complaint the dog wouldn’t say.
Mom was 91 and most of her had been lost in Alzheimer’s for too long, so her death was a release. But of course I miss her. I miss telling her things, miss her laugh, miss her advice, which she’d say I seldom took — miss her singing. If she wasn’t singing she was playing the stereo — opera or classical or those rollicking, sentimental, wonderful musicals. What a gift she gave us, my two brothers and me, the love of music. None of us can sing a bar, and we whined about the compulsory piano lessons until she let us quit, talentless. But Michael goes to the opera regularly, David to the Minnesota Orchestra, and I love everything from jazz to Vivaldi to “Wild Horses.”
Thanks, Mom. I’ll think of you with every note.
And, BTW, you were wrong about the Beatles. They weren’t “just noise.”
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