A Palliative Playlist

They tell me hearing is the last sense to go; seems plausible given the eye brows still rise and furrow at the sound of my voice.  In a more active place, like an ICU, the goal is to “turn the bed,” so it’s more like a palliative push.  In long-term care, comfort is prolonged.  So my job is to fill the time.   I rummage through drawers and old notebooks.  I read out loud until agitation (hers and mine) sets in.  Then, I turn to song.  I sing along.  I cry.  I do these two things at the same time…

As I neither want to get in your way, nor rush you out the door, “Let the light guide your way. Hold every memory as you go. And every road you take, will always lead you home1. Along the way, “Nobody can tell ya. There’s only one song worth singin’. They may try and sell ya. ‘Cause it hangs them up to see someone like you.  But you’ve gotta make your own kind of music. Sing your own special song. Even if nobody else sings along.” 2

“Just so you know,” you’d say to me when I was small, “Parents are people. People with children. When parents were little, they used to be kids…but then they grew. And now parents are grown-ups…There are a lot of things…parents can do.”3

For instance when I, “Work all night on a drink of rum,” 4 it’s because, “I’ve looked at clouds [as] rows and flows of angel hair and ice cream castles in the air.   But now they only block the sun…So many things I would have done, but clouds got in my way…it’s life’s illusions I recall. I really don’t know life at all .”5

You don’t believe in G*d, you have told, written, preached to me; a Jewish atheist like your mom.  I don’t know if I believe or not, though I know you think I know. Either way, over the years, I have tried, not always gracefully for sure, to serve yours: “Amazing grace! How sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me…How precious did that grace appear, the hour I first believed? 6

Your love, a reformed Catholic, strummed on the guitar for you: “Come, sing a song of joy for peace shall come.”7   You answered with your full force: “I need your sweet inspiration. I need you here on my mind every hour of the day. Without your sweet inspiration, the lonely hours of the night just don’t go my way.” 8

I sort of feel that way myself right now.  Not to be crass, and obviously don’t mind me, but I’m waiting to be released from mothering you, my mother.  No rush, of course, proceed at your own pace, but know I believe we are ready.  So maybe just: “Ease on down, ease on down the road.. Don’t you carry nothin’ that might be a load. Come on, ease on down, ease on down the road. “9

And as you do, I will sing to you my favorite bedtime prayer, HashkiveinuIt will blanket you:“…Adonai, remove wrongdoing from before us and behind us, and shelter us in the shadow of your wings…You protect us in all our goings and comings for life and for now until eternity…Amen.10

  1. Wiz Khalifa, See You Again
  2. The Mamas and the Papas, Make Your Own Kind of Music
  3. Harry Belafonte and Marlo Thomas, Parents are People
  4. Harry Belafonte, Day-O, The Banana Boat Song
  5. Joni Mitchell, Both Sides Now
  6. Woody Guthrie, Amazing Grace
  7. Ode to Joy
  8. Yandall Sisters, Sweet Inspiration
  9. Diana Ross, The Wiz
  10. Hashkiveinu, Jewish Prayer


©Gabriella Strecker, 2017

photo courtesy of http://theranaldhotel.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/valentinesplaylist.jpg