Music is Connection despite Dementia Symptoms

819Ph 196210 Lo2

Tru here.  (Picture was made for me by daughter Charlene.)

During 2015 ADI conference in Perth, Simone Willig asked what music means to me.  My answer was;
“Music is Connection (despite dementia symptoms): to myself, to others, and to the unseen rhythms connecting each living entity.”

Today’s blog is specifically geared for those who might be developing dementia symptoms.  Like my friend George Huba PhD suggested at  http://hubaisms.com/2015/08/05/some-things-you-might-do-before-you-have-cognitivedecline-mindmap/ , this is the time to address some preliminaries, one of which is documentation of music preference.

Due to jumble of audio reception in my brain, I am no longer able to enjoy many of the songs from youth and earlier adulthood.  Multiple instruments or fast beat usually feels too “busy” and chaotic, even with the familiar songs that I enjoyed during earlier years.  If there is absolutely no other action or sound going on in the house then I can listen to one or two songs that are “busy” but more than one or two songs is a problem.

Both for my communication with self and with others, I think it important to document not only style but particular songs that are part of what it means to be ME … and why.

Maybe my list will give YOU some ideas of a list for yourself (or loved one).  You will certainly know ME much more intimately after you read the list.

Songs and Significance in my life

 EARLY  YEARS:

1959 LowDad’s love song for my mother was “Beautiful Brown Eyes” (Brothers Four).   (see autobiography page of https://truthfulkindness.com/bnp/part-1/parents/)

Dad always worked at least two jobs while we were growing up, and one was always as a railroad “switchman”.  He had a wonderful version of Wabash Canon Ball that he perfected on harmonica.  We all sat on the floor around the fire while Dad’s harmonica imitated the sound of the engine starting, picking up speed, the song, then brakes, and release of air.  It was an auditory experience.

 819Ph 196210 Lo2Julie was the other half of me.  Puff the Magic Dragon (Peter Paul & Mary) represents the idyllic magic of early childhood for Julie and I.  Dad often played it on his harmonica for us.    (see autobiography pages of https://truthfulkindness.com/bnp/part-1/julie-bindy/ and https://truthfulkindness.com/bnp/part-1/train-ride-magic/)

196103b LoWe children learned to waltz about as soon as we learned to walk, by our feet on Daddy’s feet as he danced (or sometimes suspended between Mommy and Daddy).  We learned new waltz steps while Dad hummed the tune of Blue Danube“.  (see autobiography page of https://truthfulkindness.com/bnp/part-2/2a/remember-daddy/)

 When I was 6th grade we began teaching ballroom dance as a family, and each had our favorite dance.  My favorite dance was tango, and new steps were always learned with the tune of “Hernando’s Hideaway (Mantovani).(See https://truthfulkindness.com/bnp/part-2/2a/tango-with-daddy/)

Malaguena (Larry Adler) has always been my personal favorite of the songs Dad played on his harmonica with the wild driving tempo  in crescendo, then achingly tender diminuendo.  It was originally the sixth movement of Lecuona’s Suite Andalucía, and Dad played it magnificently.

FAMILY  HERITAGE:

outHs notes 20130228a copy  Grandma’s Feather Bed (John Denver) reminds me of holidays at my grandparent’s rural log cabin home, and four cousins sleeping head-to-toe (two at each end) in the single bed, with Grammy’s feather bed under us and comforters stacked over us … in between trips thru the snow to the outhouse.

Wayward Wind (Frankie Lane) for  my paternal grandmother, who spent summers at the lake in Minnesota (where my father was born and spent his early years at the Chippewa Reservation) and spent each winter near us in Oregon.

The Chippewa Song was handed down from my father.  One year I sang it to a music specialist at the Reservation who acknowledged the Chippewa language and culture in the song, but said “like many of the old songs, that song must be lost to history”.  I only remember the first of many verses, and it was sung to my children at bedtime …  just as my father sang it to me.

The Irish and cowboy heritage from maternal side of my family is memorialized with my maternal grandmother’s favorite song “Oh Danny Boy“, and “The Master’s Call” (by Marty Robbins) which became my son’s special bedtime song.

Michelle (by The Beatles) was primary song for both my sister and my daughter, which I sang her at each bedtime during her childhood.

The first album I asked for was in 5th grade; “My Cup Runneth Over by Ed Ames.  Mom had been saving up to buy a new couch (never had one before) and instead Dad came home with a stereo player.  That is also the year our family was given gift of a used, black and white television, and we children were allowed to watch two shows per week.  Ed Ames had the Native American role in the weekly show of Daniel Boone, and that is where I was exposed to his voice.  I remember many a night going to bed, with Mom on Dad’s lap in the one chair, listening to records they had been given by friends.  She finally forgave him for buying the stereo — but she never did get a new couch.  Years later he bought a large grandfather clock instead of the couch, and we all sat on the carpeted floor until we inherited the chaise lounge from grandparents.  (After all, difficult to dance on carpet so what is a carpet for if not sitting on  — LOL ! )

My brother, sister and I regularly sang They Call the Wind Maria (Harve Presnell) with Dad on harmonica.

Another family favorite was Impossible Dream“, which was a favorite of my brother in his early youth.

During seventh grade I learned  the songs from many musicals, and ever since 1970, Who Will Buy this wonderful morning” became my default song.  That song is what I hum every morning until something else enters my mind or until I hear something that day.  I was about 40 years old before one of the children pointed out that fact.  Never really realized until then.

819 BnP 2b05a 4in200ppi

 

Our small High School had one drama production per year with joint participation from choir, art department, and much of the community.  My Senior year we produced the musical “Sugar” (based on the Marilyn Monroe movie “Some Like it Hot”).  As “Sugar”, I had the female lead.

 

819BMPB 1982Sep SRP 6in300ppi

Bridge Over Troubled Water” and “He aint Heavy he’s my Brother were my younger brother’s favorite two songs and captured much of who he was until he died from a shotgun blast to the head while protecting his friend.  He was 21 years old.  (see my autobiography pages https://truthfulkindness.com/bnp/part-2/2d/death-brother/)  and (https://truthfulkindness.com/bnp/part-2/2d/october-justice/)

Big Bad John (Jimmy Dean) was my song for the best friend I had thru many bad years; John Kimbley.  He was the boy across the street whom I babysat during High School years, and was best friends with my brother.  He was even more strongly integrated into our family after my brother was killed.  Years later he returned from his military time, and I returned home from military base in Italy, in order to care for Dad while he was dying of cancer, so we both were living in the same houses, across the street, as adults.  We shared coffee every morning and I had extremely vivid dream of John’s death at 25 years old.  Several months later he died almost exactly as I had dreamed, and I had a really REALLY hard time with that one!  (written autobiography page, but not online yet).  It was as if I had suddenly lost Julie again, lost my brother Spence, and lost John … all at one time.

 First two verses of How Great Thou Art (as sung by my friend Feather ForestWalker and me) and The Lord’s Prayer (Andrea Bocelli) are my favorite childhood hymns.  I Believe (Frankie Lane) is very important to me, along with What a Wonderful World” (Louis Armstrong).  Avinu Malkeinu” (Barbra Streisand) is an addition during the last 10 years.  Many of my spiritual beliefs have changed thru the years, but my relationship stays very strong.  (See https://truthfulkindness.com/2014/07/16/faith-dementia/ and https://truthfulkindness.com/2014/10/31/my-motivation-hope/ )
  BothForever and Ever (by Randy Travis) and  “When I’m 64” (The Beatles) were songs for our wedding.  (Yes LOL; a bit avant-garde.)

I sang The Rose” to my new husband … during the wedding ceremony, to go with the vows we wrote. (Again, autobiography page not online yet).

My husband’s favorite phrase when asked “… but how did you know?” by me or one of the children, is That’s My Job” (as sung by Conway Twitty)

Blue Shadows on the Trail” (Sons of Pioneers) was my Divine warning of hard times coming (after more than 30yrs with no answers for my symptoms … Lyme disease diagnosis later that year & began five long years of nausea and side effects from various medical treatments for the several tick-borne diseases, culminating with tentative dementia diagnosis)

mtn sunset20031231d 5in100ppi

You Gave me a Mountain (by Marty Robbins recorded by Frankie Lane) is for the many many strong challenges of my life.  Also, of course the large impact Mount Adams and the little rural town of Trout Lake have played in my family history and in my own life.

Cabin drwg 8in075ppi

The log cabin which my grandfather “helped” build (as a toddler) is the one PLACE on earth that is most deeply ingrained in my personhood … with Mt. Adams “in the backyard”.  The location of belonging and Shalom (peaceful wholeness).

You are so Beautiful” (Joe Cocker) is my Divine love song.  Don’t ask me why … because I am not going to share that story.

And of course “The Taps” with which Dad always closed harmonica sessions before tapping his chromatic harmonica on his lap to clear it … and sending us to bed.

Try to Remember” (Harry Belafonte) and “The Way We Were (Barbra Streisand) represent my efforts to retain moments and memories, despite dementia symptoms.

I am sure that I will add many more favorites to this playlist, but these songs represent most of who I was as a youngster, who I became as a young adult, and who I became as a mother.  Some of these songs are saved in “Musical Memories” listing at my youtube channel https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL2E2lPBsUeBiLgnJd9_diZPdHfDXdWKGy .

616 TLK4SimoneWillig201504AusPerth 3in125ppiAgain; “Music is Connection (despite dementia symptoms): to myself, to others, and to the unseen rhythms connecting each living entity.”

How about YOURS; where is your list ?? !!


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11 thoughts on “Music is Connection despite Dementia Symptoms

  1. This is superb Tru! Thank you so much for sharing. I envy the heritage of music in your life and your ability to convey that special connection.

    This will help me to further refine my own archive of musical memories and connections. I am grateful!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tru, this sends a jolt to my mind. We have almost identical childhood. The songs, the waltz, right down to dancing with feet on dad’s. I missed the tango. The older kids grew up and left home. Dad was getting old. I did learn the cha-cha, rhumba and the polka. I am going to start my song list, thanks to you!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Hi Tru,

    Great post. I found it interesting that so many of your favorite songs also have direct connections for me — figures, we are about the same age. Your story about your dad reminded that my dad also played chromatic harmonica and could usually play something after hearing it only once or twice. He picked up the harmonica in WWII France and Germany.

    Since you like Streisand’s version of Avinu Malkeinu you might like Songs of Our Fathers, I&II by Andy Statman and David Grisham (two of the greatest mandolinists in the world and also bluegrass musicians). Andy Statman is also a virtuoso clarinetist in Klezmer.

    Of course I still love Street Fighting Man by the Stones. My story is that it was 1971 and I went to DC to demonstrate in the May Day anti-war 5-day blockade of the city through its bridges. Up near the George Washington University Campus and the windows in the dorm were wide open and Street Fighting Man was blasting out at probably the loudest volume possible on a circa 70s stereo.

    And that other Joe Cocker song about getting by with a little help from your friends …

    You know how I feel about music and stories and memories. I really enjoyed your stories.

    Thanks Friend.

    George

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: How I Recognize Myself and Others | Truthful Loving Kindness

  5. Wonderful and interesting post Tru. I love how you have shared connection of your music. I too love music and have several songs that are important…must start my list with connections. Thank you for this x

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Learned During 2016, for dealing with my own dementia symptoms | Truthful Loving Kindness

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