Humour, Joy, Music, Videos

amazing amazing grace with guitar

Amazing Grace w guitar

One day in the summer of 2011, Mom, Caroline and I were having a particularly bad day. EVERYTHING seemed to be going wrong. All three of us were sad and down. The day before, my friend Jessica had shared a link to Amazing Grace. A different version.

I put my laptop on the island in the kitchen and cranked up the volume. It wasn’t long before Mom, Caroline and I were singing, clapping and dancing around the kitchen. Mom loved to move. Now she is free to fly. She wouldn’t have wanted us to get too stuck in grief for too long. She would have thrown herself party.

Here’s to my mom’s amazing grace, fierce spirit and sense of fun, with guitar, mandolin, accordion, harmonica, fiddle and horns. Oh yes. Life is meant to be sung and danced. She left this place on August 17, 2016. But even in death, her light shines.



Amazing grace how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now I’m found.
Was blind but now I see.
‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.
When we’ve been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Then when we first begun.
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I’m found.
Was blind, but now I see.

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Joy, Love, Memories, Music, Videos

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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Joy, Music, Videos

can you play an alzheimers doe, dear?


Social workers and doctors saId my Mom Pinkie Patti (who was in the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease when this video was taken) shouldn’t have healing music therapy because it could potentially make her agitated and she wouldn’t remember the joy and pleasure of it anyway. As you can see, the experts were wrong.

Believe your own truth.

The touching blog post that goes with this video is here.