It was no coincidence that some of my favorite musicals and old films were on TV for the past two days. I had forgotten all about “Desert Song” with Kathryn Grayson and Gordon MacRae. Watching it left me with such good, warm fuzzies. Since I particularly liked MacRae’s rendition of the theme song, I immediately hopped over to Amazon to locate a CD. To my horror, it seemed like there were only 2 CD’s in the universe and they were listed as “collectibles” within a price range of $80 -$140. Not even any MP3 downloads. I had recordings by some tenors, but I wanted a baritone, so the hunt was on. Suddenly I remembered my vinyl record collection which I had tenaciously hung on to all these years, and there it was. . . . even better than I had expected. . . the whole operetta with Nelson Eddy.
When other teens of my time were listening to Bobby Darin and Elvis Presley, I was listening to Mario Lanza, watching Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald movies, and growing up with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Lyric Opera Company. Franco Corelli was my biggest crush . . .
In those days before CD’s and ipods, we had one stereo in the living room and a collection of vinyl records. Unless I was practicing the piano, we were listening to classical music — all of us. I remember my mom sometimes interrupting her cooking to dance through the living room to the tune of a lively operetta, and we would all join in. We had so many afternoons of music and laughter.
My mom would have been eighty- five today. In the one-and-a-half years since her death, I’ve learned that losing someone so close to you changes you forever, and somehow you learn to live through the grief and keep the joy in your heart. Remembering was important to my mom and it is to me, and so I celebrate her coming into this world as well as her leaving, even though I wish she could have stayed longer.
We get so busy and so full of doubt about what is or isn’t real, we don’t see the little messages that our loved ones leave for us, whether they’re still here in the flesh or whether they’re on the other side. My mom is still my best friend and I feel her presence whenever I need her. There is no doubt in my mind that the whole purpose of the Gordon MacRae, Desert Song “hunt” was so that I would take the time to listen to some of her and my favorite music that had been on the shelf for so many years.
Today she had balloons and flowers on her grave, and tonight was a musical party reminiscent of my childhood years. The vinyl records played crisply and cleanly on the old turntable, which was a minor miracle in and of itself. The house was filled with the joyful tunes of our favorite operettas . . . and I know my mom was waltzing away as she used to in those days of old.
Happy Birthday, Mom.