"That's beautiful, Honey Girl. Did you write that song?" Harper's mother tilted her head back on her pillow in reverie at hearing yet another new tune filling the room. For months now she assumed that her daughter wrote each piece of music that Harper put on the table player for her, because for that same amount of time she had believed that she had raised a composer instead of a middle school music teacher.
"Listen to this!" she would beckon to nurses in the hallway. "My daughter wrote this!" Once or twice lately she had not recognized Harper, yet with just as much delight with the music she would offer, "I was in college with the man who wrote this song," or "Who made up those words?.....I think it was Mrs. Kennedy," and "Someone I loved long ago wrote this music just for me."
"No, Mum, not me. Try to remember now; this is one of your favorite songs. It was ..."
Harper's words were cut off mid-sentence by her mother's all-knowing nod and pleased smile, as she assured, "I know it! It is one of my favorite songs of yours!"
"No. Mum. I did not write this one," said Harper, buffering the news that she had never in her life written a piece of music or any lyrics, for that matter. The last time she had bluntly said that she did not write music, only taught kids to play it, her mother had been inconsolable for the hours remaining in that week's visit. Harper had driven the 50 miles home from the care center with tears streaking her face with absolutely no music playing in the car.
"Ah, I love it," whispered her mother. "Love it, love it, love it." There. There it was again, that look on her mother's face that Harper was seeing more of each week. It miraculously wiped away age while it wiped away all expression, pale skin and gray hair morphing into pillow case and leaving only two small glazed blue eyes as proof her mother was there underneath those covers.
"You always did, Mum. After the good times ended you called it your anthem."
Feeling as if she were alone in the room, Harper began telling of how her love of music came from her childhood that was filled with her parents' music. They sang and danced -- there were always friends around in those days -- in the house in winter and out on the huge deck under the ginkgo trees in summertime. The Stones, Janis Joplin, Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Country Joe McDonald and the Fish, Jethro Tull, It's A Beautiful Day, Grace Slick and Jefferson Airplane, and -- above all others -- The Beatles, created the background music of her early life. Harper took center stage sometimes as the crowd urged her on to "Dance like there's no tomorrow!" but more often she watched her young parents and their friends from the sidelines. She appreciated them in all their beauty and color and scent of patchouli and thought they were perfect and that none of them would ever forget those days.
"I forgot!" her mother cried out, interrupting Harper's recounting of the past. The song, set on repeat, began playing again, and her mother quieted as she sat up rigid in her bed. "If you didn't write the song then who did?" she whimpered with tears glistening in her blue eyes.
Harper left the plant she had been unconsciously pruning with her fingernails as she talked and moved a tray off of her mother's bed to get close, really close, to the innocent one sitting there. With the cold frame of the bed supporting her back Harper wrapped her arms around her mother to console her. The woman who once taught her generations of songs nestled against Harper's chest, fingering the soft folds of her cashmere sweater.
Looking up into Harper's face she whispered a confession: "I lost the song, Mommy."
"Shhh. No worry now." Harper rocked her mother's frail body in time with the song's ending chorus. "Do not worry. Just let it go. Let It Be."
MLydiaM ~ December 2010
The top image is this week's photo writing prompt at Magpie Tales.
More about Let It Be at Songfacts.