If you haven't seen this video yet, I invite you to take a few minutes and watch the story of Henry. Suddenly, a man who has been depressed and unresponsive for nearly a decade becomes animated and starts singing out loud when given an iPod of music from his era. The transformation is beautiful to behold. Music truly touches the soul!
Watching this video also touched me personally because I saw this happen in my own life. After being hospitalized on and off for years, my mother went into a nursing home and barely reacted to anything. She wouldn't smile; she won't answer you when you talked to her. She'd stare into an abyss of nothingness, as if her spirit were already gone. Then my sister and I started playing Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett music for her, and my mother's whole demeanor changed. While the music played, she was singing and even smiling. Music was the only thing that touched her, the only thing.
On the last Mother's Day visit a few months before she passed away, while listening to Frank Sinatra belting out "My Way," she suddenly began talking about her childhood, telling us how she would play with her siblings in the backroom of her father's barber shop in a small New Jersey town. The same thing happened to Henry when he opened up about his youth and love of music. It's a joy to watch.
Just like Henry in this video, my mother, Carmela, loved to sing when she was young. She wore flowers in her hair and sang in beautiful harmony to whatever was playing on the radio. But there was a storm raging inside her that belied the songs and the smiles, a darkness her children saw in their most frightening hours.
The woman with the lovely singing voice who liked to wear flowers in her hair suffered for her sanity throughout her adult life. Because of that, her six children, of which I am the eldest, ended up in an orphanage and foster care. I won't write about all that today. I doubt I'll write about it very often. I choose to focus more on joy rather than sadness, but sometimes sharing the past can be good therapy, too.
This is an old grainy photo of my mother taken when she was young, but it captures her spirit.
As Henry says in the video, "Right now the world needs to come into music...you've got beautiful music here."
©2012-2014 JerseyLil’s 2 Cents.