Two Years On…

My brother and I had a very uncomplicated, peaceful childhood. My mom made sure. For all the nights my dad stayed out working, or golfing we did our own thing at home. Not like today when we have our kids running the roads just to keep them busy. The three of us stayed home when we didn’t have obligations, and in our front room, we danced and we listened to music. In the beginning, the original Sesame Street records. A little later, my moms records. Lots of Elvis, Beatles and more Motown than we would ever work through. So much. That was what we did. I still have six boxes of her 33’s and hundreds of 45’s in a closet downstairs. I keep them because each one represents something different. A different story she told. A different memory for all of us.

Her plants were just so, arranged in that bright front room among her meticulously chosen decor she’d saved up for from the Sears catalog to make everything perfect for us. The picture window. The room we left from for the bus each morning. Her drapes. My mom and her damn drapes.

But, back then, your parents were the Gatekeepers to such things. To music. Kids our age didn’t have their own collections. Rarely did we even have our own cassette players or radios. Eventually I learned how to use the record player with caution so I could play all my storybook records. I got to where I didn’t have to ask first. While my brother liked to scrape the needle across the records and spin them backwards so he could hear them in reverse. Or play them at the wrong speed entirely.

Years later he was blessed with his own stereo system…the kind it took my mom a year to save for that came in it’s own cabinet and took up half his room. I think she was just desperate for him to keep his hands off her stuff.

But before that, in simpler, quieter times, I got my own little radio with a tape deck and headphones where I would listen to my stories on tape. I had a Garfield cassette with a song that I vividly remember called Long About Midnight by Lou Rawls. Who I knew well from our ‘Family 8-track’ in the station wagon and his song You’ll Never Find. And one magical day, my dad brought home a tiny record player. It was for me. It had some torn and restuck Winnie the Pooh stickers on it. It was blue in a folding case. Never one to pass up Free, he had literally found it in a junkyard while scavenging for car parts for work. But it played fine. And it was mine. I listened to my stories and kids music all evening and would fall asleep with my big headphones on listening to Chicken Soup with Rice or Free to be You and Me.

By the time I was 10, our family structure had changed. My parents were struggling in their marriage. John was more unruly than ever. We weren’t eating dinner together like we always had. Those peaceful times filled with music had been replaced with fighting and just getting through the days while my parents worked even more just to hold the mess together. I had spent a lot of long hours alone in my room scraping those old records for any comfort or memory of things I could no longer hear. Grabbing every song that came on the radio as fast as I could, to process it and commit it to memory before the chance was gone completely. I knew once it was there, it would stay. And I wanted to keep everything. My dad’s Jim Croce and Harry Chapin. My mom’s Beatles, 50’s and 60’s. All my 80’s and R&B. Even my brother’s classic rock.

I’m going to end it here, on the day my mom reached out to me. Through all of this. Which I know now wasn’t easy for her. She hadn’t grown up with her heart cared for and I believe it remained a struggle for her to know how to do it for us, even when it was most needed. She just didn’t know how. On this day, she stopped fighting me for wanting to be alone. She stopped seeing it as a failure on her part. She stopped thinking something was ‘wrong’ with me. On this day, she saw me for me. And told me in her own way that she understood my new world. She brought me a stack of instrumental records. No words. Just music. Communicating with me the way that she best knew how. On this day, she told me that she was hearing me.

The list was Sleepwalk by Santo and Johnny, Green Onions by Booker T and the M.G.s, Percy Faith A Summer Place, Walk Don’t Run by the Ventures, Flight of the Bumblebee from Hooked on Classics. And this last one that I hold close to my heart forever. This delicate song popped up in my head several days ago from somewhere long, long ago. It helped me to know she was there. No matter the years passed, I was right. I knew it would all stay.

Miss you Mama
Sam

This was the last birthday card I recieved from my mom. 2016. April will be my 3rd birthday without her. I keep this on my fridge so I can see it every day and never forget the sentiments that she made seem so easy, but I know, at times, were so hard for her to express.

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36 thoughts on “Two Years On…

    1. As soon as we moved here, I put it up and it’s been there ever since πŸ’”

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  1. Hugs Sam. I totally understand and empathize although my Mom has been gone 38 years now. Moms make a difference.

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    1. 😒😒😒 They really do. I try to hang on to everything. Thank you so much.

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      1. Look for her touch. She will always be with you. I get messages from my mother all the time, if I pay attentuon.

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        1. Aw, yes! That is exactly what happened with this one song the other day 😒😒😒

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  2. Lovely message, beautiful music.

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    1. Thank you so much 😊🎢🎡🎢

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  3. So many songs and so many memories tied to them. Your memories spark mine, reminding me that I had Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby from Disney’s Songs of the South on record and how much I loved listening to it.
    Thank you!πŸ’ŒπŸ’Œ

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    1. I have our copy with these records before it went out of print! My dad till this day still recites the “PLEASE! What*ever* you do, Don’t throw me in that briarpatch!” schtick πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

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  4. Well, if there was a love button…
    On a day when I am missing my dad (he passed in 2012), your post made me a little verklempt.
    Music is such a wonderful thing, so good for the soul. I’m glad it brings you happy memories of your mom.

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    1. Aw, thank you 😒 I’m so sorry to hear about your dad…it’s so hard to put words to some of these memories but always seems worth the emotional strength it takes once we have.

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  5. Music Box Dancer was one of my favorites back then! I haven’t heard it in forever and my kids would laugh me out of the room if I tried to make them listen to it today.

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    1. Hahah, do you think??! It seems sort of timeless but maybe that’s just me! πŸ˜‚ It was very sweet, she just said ‘I thought you’d like this’ and I know even that was difficult. I believe she meant the simplicity of it. I still attach that one record to that day. I was so happy when it showed up in the back of my mind the other day!

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  6. Such a beautiful piece of writing. I was listening to TV as I read blogs. I turned the TV off when I got into this one. It deserved my full attention. I know some of what you feel. I’m glad you have that last birthday card, I have some of my mom’s handwriting and letters. Two years in isn’t very long, but I imagine it feels like forever and then sometimes like only a moment. Huge hugs.

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    1. Thank you so much, Dawn πŸ˜”. I’m glad you have letters of your mom’s, those snapshots of time are priceless. I have two journals she left behind but I haven’t had the will to read them. I think I’m still at the point where that feels like a violation of her trust. And I’m not yet ready to see what’s in them, I don’t think.

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      1. It’s OK not to read them. Just having them is important, they are priceless. Someday you might read them, maybe you never will. You’ll know in your heart what’s right for you. My mom died unexpectedly in 2004, so it’s been 14 years, 15 this next July. My heart is still broken but the pain isn’t as intense. Your two years is still very very close to the loss, you have to play it day by day.

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        1. Thank you so much πŸ˜” That’s a good way to describe it..it is still there but not as intense and consuming. Day by day indeed.

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  7. 😒 Thank you for sharing these words, the music, the memories and the message.

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    1. 😒😒😒 You’re welcome. I couldn’t quite get the one together for my brother. I’m not sure why, I just don’t have the perspective for that yet. πŸ˜”

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      1. I can understand that, certainly. There’s no rush, ever. πŸ˜”β™‘

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        1. πŸ˜”πŸ˜”πŸ˜” I had to let go of the subconcious pressure of doing it on the 13th. And know that I can do it any time and it will still be okay. 😒

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          1. It really will be okay. Over time, you will find the perspective and not feel rushed and, pressured by the date. In time, and with peace. 😒😒😒😒😒😒😒😒😒 Take your time.

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            1. I’m still thinking on it. The first thing that came to mind was the opening scene to The Twilight Zone movie from the 80’s. πŸ˜‚ That’s about as sentimental as I can allow myself to be on it right now! 😭

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            2. The intro popped into my head. Just give it time. Your feelings and words will fall together.❀

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            3. I looked everywhere on youtube for the whole opening scene and it’s not there….only parts. But now I’m gonna buy the movie on Amazon..simple but great memories of watching that again and again!

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            4. The entire series is on Netflix, but I think the movie tops it. Even better with great memories attached.β™‘

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            5. Honestly I never liked the black and white show *but* I didn’t commit too much time to it. I probably should, still. The movie was from the 80’s and it was so totally 80’s. The John Lithgow airplane one was one of the first things in my life that ever truly terrified me. Even then the story arc of that segment fascinated me. And the Vietnam one, amazing. All of them…they’re all good! But SO inappropriate for how young we were that it’s horrifying! I keep forgetting to buy it on amazon πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

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            6. The airplane part was my absolute favorite! Write a note😁 I have not seen it in so long.

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            7. I forgot again. Till right now. Im going to download it later tonight πŸ˜‚

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            8. Lololol. I laughed at that part when I was little, and should not have been watching it in the first place. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ OMG, write a noteπŸ˜‰πŸ˜

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  8. Oh Sam, I’ve got tears in my eyes…sending you a huge hug.

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  9. Its amazing how music can define our times, good and bad. Hugs to you, my friend❀️

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    1. It covers *allll* the bases that’s for certain! Thank you so much! πŸ€—πŸ€—πŸ€—

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