Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Song Remembers When

"After I'd forgotten all about us
The song remembers when ..."
Trisha Yearwood

Memory is a funny thing. I used to pride myself on my ability to remember details. I wasn't always good with names, but give me a phone number or an address and I could repeat it back to you for years on end. When I was in school I could memorize important dates in history or vocabulary words with no problem. I wasn't so good with the inner parts of a dissected frog, but I believe that was because I never really saw at it. I took one look at that poor thing spread eagle on the lab table with his gut slit from one end to the other and smelling of formaldehyde and made a hasty run for the bathroom. I had a lot of bathroom time during Biology class.

I digress ....
Somewhere in my mid-forties I noticed I was forgetting more than I was remembering. I blamed it on stress and depression. My father told me I moved too quickly from one thing to another to be able to commit anything to memory. Then I realized my problem was menopause. The dreaded "M" is way more than a cause for celebration because your "friend" stops coming to visit. Before the cork is even out of the celebratory bottle of champagne, your ovaries have shriveled up, you're all dried up "down there," and chin hairs sprout overnight like Jack's beanstalk. At any given moment a menopausal woman is either drenched in sweat or screaming like a banshee. Not to mention her memory, the thing she used to be able to count on in an argument, has all but disappeared.

Oops, I got sidetracked again.
Suffice it to say, I've experienced all that and more. But even though I can no longer recite the Gettysburg Address, when a certain song plays on the radio I am instantly transported to another place and time. Smells are like that too. The smell of turkey roasting will take me back to the days my mother spent all morning in the kitchen cooking while I watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.

I was thinking about this musical phenomenon this morning as I drove to the doctor's office. I just bought a $5.00 CD with some of Willie Nelson's greatest hits on it. I must say, it was five dollars well spent. When I drive I turn the volume up and sing along as if I'm one of Willie's back up girls. Midway through I hear "maybe I didn't love you quite as good as I could have...."

In that moment I was no longer driving down the freeway. Instead I was sitting in a friend's kitchen playing bridge. When our husbands were gone on an extended naval cruise a group of us spent many nights and weekends and afternoons keeping each other company. It was a time in my life when I was pretty depressed. The longer my husband stayed gone, the more depressed I got. I thought I needed him to make me feel whole. Sitting at that bridge table we drank and smoked and comforted each other. When Willie Nelson came on the radio, I laughed and told the girls Texas Jimmy had written that song for me. Now every time I hear it, I think back to that time and wonder what if. What might have happened if Texas Jimmy had been able to tell me he loved me in a way I could hear it and what if I cared enough about myself to accept that I was lovable?

Another song of that same time period was a little ditty by Randy Van Warmer (do you think that is his real name?) called "Just When I Needed You Most." The first time I heard that song I was making chocolate chip cookies. It was the middle of the day, the kids were in school and undoubtedly TJ was gone again. He was gone a lot in those days. Even today when I hear the first strains of that melody:
"Now I miss you more,
Than I missed you before
And now where I'll find comfort, God knows
cause you left me
Just when I needed you most ...."

my knees feel weak and I feel really, really sad. Not sad for me today, but for the girl/woman who was so lost back then. Thank goodness I've come a long way and no longer need to grab on to sad love songs just to feel something.

I held myself together pretty well after my mother died. Until one day, weeks later when I was walking through the grocery store. Over the loudspeaker, in the middle of the cereal aisle, I heard, "... I simply wished for one more day with you ..." I froze. I had trouble breathing. I was surrounded by people but I felt all alone. Standing in front of the Fruit Loops, I began to cry. I so wanted one more day with my mom. A day when she could talk so we could talk, and laugh and be the mother/daughter duo I always wanted us to be. How is it that all those feelings could be released by one little song?

I don't know why music has this power over my memory. I guess when I'm old and sitting in a rocking chair I'll be able to amuse myself by running through my whole playlist and remembering the people of my past since I might not know anyone in my present.

Wishing for you good memories and a song in your heart,
Merry ME

The Song Remembers When -
Just When I Needed You Mst -
Always on my Mind -
One More Day -


Molly said...

I have found a way to conquer the spacing bug that happens from time to time. When you look at your preview and the spacing is not working, place your cursor where the line space ought to be and hit the bullet button. Then hit backspace until the bullet is gone but no more, and you have your space back. It preserves my sanity, because I hate everything mashed together. You're the only other person I've noticed complain, so I thought I'd share my way of beating it.

Have a good weekend.

Fire Byrd said...

Lovely post Merry.
And I know those songs to.
And I understand what is what was like to wait for a sailor husband to come home on leave. The joy of his return and the dread of his going again.
And your right hearing a song from our youth takes us right back to the memory as clear as day.

Sorrow said...

I was laughing because I was thinking about some of the music that takes me back in time, and thinking Merry would probably have either
1~ a complete stroke if she heard some of my memory tunes
2~ have absolutely NO clue what I was referencing
or 3~
shake her head and think I was as daft as a duck!
but I do so love music, and the places it takes me...