The universe offers us lessons and gifts in every situation. My mother is very near to the end of her journey on this earth. I am filled with sadness for our impending loss, relieved for the end to her suffering and grateful for the life she lived and the life my parents provided us. As she has told her friends in these last few months, “It was a really good ride.”.
Music was what really bound my mother and I together. The first recollection of her singing was when I was in the second grade, I’d learned a song on the recorder that I would play as a solo in the all school assembly at Heathcote Elementary School. Mom joined me to make it a duet and sang a descant to my melody.
Sometimes, as we were doing the dishes, we would whistle in harmony, more to our delight than to anyone else’s. We’d go on and on, change keys, throw in an obbligato, and not stop till one of us started laughing and lost that pitch perfect pucker… usually me!
I remember her singing in the church choir at St. James the Less Episcopal Church and was quickly figuring out she was really good. One day, sometime late in my elementary school years, I was searching through the family LP collection, admiring the cover art (miss that, btw!), and choosing what to listen to. So many musicals…”I used to dance around the living room”…that’s another story…never mind! I came across an album, recorded by our church’s choir, of the Brahms Requiem. My mother was the soloist for the fifth movement. I clearly remember that 78 rpm, scratching its way through the work, and there she was, soaring through that movement. Those long lines so beautifully expressed the text:
And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice,and your joy no man taketh from you.
Ye see how for a little while I labor and toil, yet I have found much rest.
As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you.
This past Friday, I received an email from a photography client. She is an opera singer and I had shot her headshot a few months ago. She said she was singing the Requiem that night and had a couple of tickets if I wanted them. She was to sing the soprano solo in the fifth movement. I gladly accepted and sat near the front.
The Brahms Requiem is amazing. I’ve heard it countless times, performed it several times and even conducted it once. This performance was with the Master Chorale of South Florida and Lynn University Philharmonia… and, of course, Robyn Marie Lamp. She possesses a remarkable voice, full of nuanced warmth and love… a remarkable instrument and unparalleled musicianship.
As I listened to the movement unfurl, I felt tears running down my cheeks. I was instantly transported back to listening to that scratchy 78 rpm. I don’t think I took a breath during the entire movement. I could feel my mom’s spirit sitting there next to me and holding me as she did so often. I could hear her singing. And Robyn… Robyn had the most comforting, confident and loving expression on her face as she delivered the Brahms in a way that I’m sure he would have loved. I know Mom and I certainly enjoyed it.
Get out of the house…and come home…