Marty and I spent an Evening with John Denver yesterday afternoon. She really loves music, she always has. Marty taught me a deeper appreciation of music and she taught our children to love and enjoy all types of music. In her heart Marty is a musician, it’s in her soul and music still stirs emotions in her when nothing else really does.
I never had the same passion for music she did, I never had the same passion Marty did about anything. Because of Marty, I listened to music a lot. We either had something playing on the stereo, or a CD in the car or Marty was playing the piano. Marty is still something of a miracle on the piano, playing with just her right hand. The broken arm and the anti-seizure meds have made it even more of a miracle.
This is probably one area of Marty’s new normal I have neglected. So I made a vow and over the last couple of day we have spent part of the afternoon listening to the music we have listened to most of our lives. We were fans in college and after college; we made our children listen to our music on vacations and other trips and eventually made them fans too.
Marty and I started out with Linda Ronstadt, Heart like a Wheel from 1974. Marty can’t sing along anymore, the synapses in her brain simply don’t fire fast enough for her to keep up with the lyrics. She recognizes the songs, she knows the songs, you can see it in her eyes as she follows the songs, she just can’t sing with a CD anymore. That doesn’t stop me, I can’t sing on key, but I can sing loud and play air guitar or banjo with the best of them and my unbridled goofiness makes my bride smile.
As I sing, as I tap my feet, I watch Marty, and if you watch her very closely you can see her start to slowly let the music and the memories from the music start to tickle her mind. She starts to nod to the music, she starts to mouth some of the words, she starts to feel the music and it begins to be a part of her essence.
We rolled through the first tracks to “Faithless Love”, then moved to “Heart Like a Wheel”, one of Marty’s favorites and soon hit “Willin”, my personal favorite where you get to really belt out, “and if you give me weeeeed, whites and wine, and you show me a sign, …” I love that line.
The next day, yesterday, we sat and listened to all of John Denver’s, “An Evening with John Denver”, from 1975, college years for both of us; we were cool, but not too cool for John. This album, umh sorry, CD, holds great memories for both of us. I listen to these songs and can’t help but be carried back to our past, back to road trips, back to long ago friendships, back to seminal moments of our lives.
Grandma's Feather Bed
Again, I watch Marty, I ask her questions about the songs, I ask her if she remembers; she nods and says she remembers the songs, but not all of the words. We hear several songs but the real toe tapper here is “Grandma’s Feather Bed.” I sing along and it gets to the part where John sings, “I even kiss Aunt Lou, ooh,” and Marty is tracking along well enough to voice the “ooh” with me and John. Her smile as the song rolled along was priceless.
We then listen to “Annie’s Song.” Marty immediately identifies the song and says, “It’s a sad song.” I’m not entirely sure why she thinks it’s sad, it’s a great love song, it was played and sung at our wedding. Sometimes, I think, for Marty, evocative and emotional equals sad. I asked if she wanted me to move to the next song, and she said, “oh no, I like the song, Khaki sang it at our wedding.” Indeed she did.
Music is still a part of Marty, it always will be, and I want it to always be. She doesn’t often show the same depth of emotion and passion she did before the strokes, but it’s still there, running very deeply inside her. It just takes a little bit of effort and some old music to get to it and a practiced eye to see it. I’m still practicing.