Music is powerful. A song can send you on a roller coaster of emotions. How many times have you heard a song that completely takes you back to a moment in your life? You can see it, feel it, and live it all over again. I had a bittersweet moment with a song today as I was driving. Tears were falling before I realized how much this song took me back.
I love older country music, back when it was country. My mom raised me on Grand Ole Opry and to appreciate those songs. Evansville took The Duke (93.5) away from me. I only have 98.1 WRAY on Saturdays, 9-12, and 99.5 WKDQ on Saturdays, 7-10. I find myself loving the WRAY DJs on Saturday mornings.
Kathy Mattea’s song “Where’ve You Been” came on the radio. I totally forgot about this song. I cannot even remember the last time I heard it. It tugged at my heart like no other.
“They’d never spent a night apart,
For sixty years, she heard him snore.
Now they’re in a hospital,
In separate beds on different floors.”
My parents had that kind of love. This song was very parallel. There was a time in 2013 where they were in the hospital at the same time. I remember wheeling my mom into Daddy’s room after he had his gangrenous gall bladder removed. The first thing she said to him was, “I missed you, Albert.” The nurses in the room started crying. Moma and Daddy were holding hands. It had been a couple days since they had seen each other.
Daddy was sent home and Moma was sent to rehab for three weeks for a broken vertebrae. They were missing each other so much. I would visit Moma and call Daddy so they could talk. That was the only connection they had during that time.
Moma had dementia. In hindsight there were signs of it during this time, but I didn’t see it. Because her lapses were intermittent, I joked and said she was just old. She would agree because she didn’t know she was having the lapses. In early stages of dementia, you have the tendency to blow off those ‘signs’, or whatever you want to call it.
As time grew on, the dementia would become more evident. Moma kept talking, unlike Claire in the song. But the realness of this song was strong. She would know my dad all the time, but got me mixed up with her niece. I was consistent with everything, as that is best with dementia. I would try to keep my weekly visits at the same time. I enjoyed coffee time. I think I share my love of coffee from her. However, she liked so much cream I would ask if she wanted coffee with her cream.
Some Saturdays I would have a karate event I needed to tend to before I could get over to visit. Even though my mom couldn’t remember something a half hour before, she could keep up with my schedule. That’s where the consistency would come in. Each visit when I was later than normal, she would ask, “Where’ve you been?” I would always tell her why. Then she would remember I told her the week prior.
Dementia is an ugly, cruel disease. A song sent me soaring back to many moments with my mom today full of memories so vivid I felt as if I could touch her. Dementia works this way, too. While a dementia brain is very decrepit, per se, deep beyond the dilapidated layers is the person they always were. A moment will bring a dementia person back to the old norm for a brief moment. Cherish those moments.
I know when Daddy is finally called Home, the first thing Moma will say is “Where’ve you been? I’ve looked for you forever and a day. Where’ve you been? I’m just not myself when you’re away.”
Keep your senses open to everything around you and enjoy the ride to a moment in time. Enjoy the song below if you hadn’t heard it.
Peace out, Trout!