Happy Birthday, Mom!
Today is my mom, Florence Gordon's birthday. I'm writing about her now, but I think about mom all the time. One of the things I remember most about my mom was her unassuming nature. She didn't make a big deal about herself. However, She was a force to reckon with. Mom played music. She was the piano player at church. I went to church a lot as a child, and my mother's piano playing was ubiquitous.
She passed away in the summer of 2016. We moved mom from Tennessee to live closer to our family in Decatur, Georgia. She lived here for four years. The mother who moved here from Tennessee was different from the mom I knew. She was diagnosed with dementia before she moved here. This disease completely changed how she behaved. One of the few things she would relate to while she had dementia was music. She hardly ever played the piano anymore those four years she lived here in Decatur. I tried many times to get her to play. Sometimes I would play the piano in her assisted living center. She would listen to me playing. Then I would ask her to play, but she refused. Even though she couldn't play the piano, She still liked listening to music. One day I played a recording of her playing and singing the piano from years earlier. She listened to it, and a smile came across her face. She said, "I like that!". She asked, "Who is singing? "I said, "Mom, that's you!" She looked at me with a bashful smile and said," Noooo, that's not me! "
Music has been a big part of my performing life as well. It's one of the tools I use in my hospital clown work. Many times I've found myself playing a song in the hospital, and my mind goes to hearing her play. She showed me how music can impact our lives. It can be a form of praise. It can be a common ground as strangers sing familiar melodies. This music possesses both the power to make someone shout and dance and the ability to console someone in a time of sorrow.
Yes, mom taught me a lot.
Happy birthday, mom.
Below is a recording of mom singing and playing the piano.