This afternoon, I spent several hours with my lap top, filing months of documents in folders so I can backup them up on my extra hard drive. It's been very satisfying. Sometimes organizing and filing is a good thing. As I filed, I found this recounting of a conversation I had with Mom, perhaps just months before she died. Mom struggled with dementia and yet, almost to the very end, she still had ambitions and plans and dreams.
Listening to Mom ruminate this morning was like seeing a patchwork of past and present pieced together as in dreams. This morning she spoke to me about her ideas for a new choir.
“I’m thinking about having a children’s choir that would sing with the men’s choir here in Seattle. It would take a sponsor and a lot of planning,” she said. They would sing Benjamin Britten’s Ceremony of Carols, no mean feat for children."
“It’s like giving birth,’ she said.
I asked her, “Were all your choirs like giving birth?”
"You have to have a dream,” she said, “Wilfred had a dream.” She was speaking about her brother’s plans for establishing the opera school at Indiana University in the late 1940s. “He had the support of President Lucky,” mentioning the university’s president.
We’d move on to talk of other things and then she’d return again to the children’s choir. She recounted the story of her first teaching job in Ottawa, Canada, as music teacher in an elementary school. Mr. Wilson, the school administrator, sent her a letter giving high praise for her children’s choir, saying he’d never heard anything as beautiful.
I’ve heard Mom’s children’s choirs. They sang as part of many of her Christmas concerts in Aruba. Several dozen kids sang as one voice and on key, something I’ve never heard another children’s group do. Mom could make miracles. Her choirs sang like angels.
“I remember that you didn’t like that job in Ottawa, “ I said.
“No, I hated it. It was exhausting to be with children all day.” The next school year she moved and taught high school kids at the Bolivar Central School.
“I don’t know,” Mom said, “Maybe it’s all a pipe dream, this children’s choir.”
“Well, Mom, you have to start with a dream to get anything done.”