a magical musical alzheimer gift


June 2, 2014: When Eric arrives at my place at 1:30 p.m., Mom is still asleep. She’s been dead to the world for the last three hours–sedated by the antipsychotics she shouldn’t be given but nevertheless is every morning and again late in the afternoon.

Once Eric sits down in front of her and starts to play, she slowly emerges from the drug fog. Eventually she leans forward, reaches for the neck of the guitar and Eric’s hand. He responds immediately: moves closer, suggests she have a strum on the strings.

If ever two people were in tune with a moment it’s them: Mom wanting to touch the music, Eric offering her the ability to do so. He plays a few chords, hums part of a melody or whispers the semblance of some words; Mom joins in with her own voice, a clap of her hands or a gesture in time with the music. These are simple things. Basic things. Heretofore-unremarkable things. Things without which I surely would not have survived the past six months.

The time the three of us spend together singing, playing, improvising and being present weaves a thread of joy through the tattered fabric of my mother’s life. It also enables me to endure the cesspool of this disease and have the strength to bear witness to the daily new ravages her situation wreaks upon her. These fleeting moments, minutes and hours are miraculous. Within a divine musical space our unlikely trio has co-created a transformational in-the-now symphony, the beauty of which is beyond compare.

We’ve sung the old songs she knows best, and Beatles songs I never knew she knew. Until very recently she remembered the lyrics to literally hundreds of songs. Those memories are fading now as her language skills further diminish. But there’s still joy to be had as you will see in the video below. Besides our own voices, today’s instruments include maracas, a traditional American aboriginal flute and Eric’s holy (and holey :P) guitar

Our tripartite jam session is a magical gift amidst the despair. Thank you god, angels and the universe for the blessing of musicHallelujah!

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  1. Johanne Ravenda on

    Hallelujah! You write so beautifully…describing the indescribable…putting words and images reflecting magical…spiritual moments… nurturing the souls…

  2. Love your poetic phrasing: “Within a divine musical space our unlikely trio has co-created a transformational in-the-now symphony, the beauty of which is beyond compare.”

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