Wednesday, September 26, 2007
My Mother's Music
My mother always sang. She sang while she washed the dishes. She sang while she scrubbed the toilet. She sang while she sorted dirty clothes or ironed clean ones. My mother, with her lovely voice, filled the house with snatches of music. I say snatches, because my mother never knew all the words to any song. The surprising thing is that she only sang hymns.
One of the things passed down from her mother's house to ours was a Methodist hymnal from the days when my grandmother attended said church. I am almost sure she came by the hymnal legitimately and hadn't just pinched it from the back of the pew.
So I am confident that my mother had heard and sung all of these hymns hundreds of times in her life and as she attended church regularly, she had weekly practice. Still she never seemed to know any more than snatches of them. Her versions of songs were usually one or two lines, occasionally punctuated with "da da da" or "dum dee dum" to take the place of missing lyrics.
What we didn't always realize as children was that in addition to using musical "fillers" my mother often changed the words to songs. More than once I heard a hymn sung in church that I thought I knew well after hearing it so many times at home only to find out that it bore little resemblance to the song I had learned.
I guess my mother just liked things her own way, and as she sang to the Lord, she sang what came from her heart and not what came from the hymnal. She wasn't concerned about the missing words, she sang the bits she thought were important.
Of course, to this day I find it hard to sing "The Old Rugged Cross" without doing it in her style.
"On a hill, da dee dum.
Stood an old la da dee.."