We are shaped and fashioned by what we love.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
The song American Pie, by Don McLean, has always been the song that ran over and over in my head, since that very first time I heard it. I still believe it was one of the best-written songs of its time. There is one line that has taken on a different lyric for me, this past year.
‘The day the stories died’ now replaces that line 'The day the music died' when those lyrics dance in my head. One year ago today, my Mom passed away, and those lyrics changed for all of her children and those who loved her. This was one of the most difficult days of my life. I have to admit even after one year, I still struggle with the loss.
You see, I believed my Mom and I never had anything in common, and we butted heads often in our younger days. It appears to me now that those tempestuous teen years were more like a battle with myself. There was no way, back then, that I would have ever admitted the fact that we were indeed cut from the very same cloth.
Our childhood growing up during the sixties and seventies, like others of that time was not always an easy one. Our family was large, our house was small and crowded, and our Dad worked endless shift worker hours. Even with all that shift work, money always seemed to be an issue. In spite of all this turmoil and often times’ strife, our Mom made all the difference in our lives. With our Mom’s incredible imagination, unfaltering optimism, and her gift of storytelling, we believed we were the richest children in that village where we grew up.
Our Mom could turn those seemingly insignificant moments in her life, into an epic story of all time, to the delight of all of us. I remember we all listened intently whenever she said,“I remember”.
There were stories about her growing up in a beach town on # 2 Highway in the thirties and forties. Tales of being a “five foot nothing” young waitress and where famous world wrestlers would drop into Louie’s diner and order everything on the menu. They would leave her a big tip, lift her high into the air and tell her they would see her on the way back. They knew her by name. Tales of growing up in a tourist town where she would get to swim with her friends in Lake Ontario, after her mother and herself, finished cleaning the summer homes of the rich Americans. Fascinating, exciting tales that while sitting there watching her spin them we would hang on every word.
I want to thank our Mom for the richness and love she gave to all of us. I know life was not always easy but you took us on the greatest of adventures in our imaginations. You stirred our longings and desires to experience life to its fullest and made us who we are today, optimistic, strong, kind, and compassionate.
I also want to thank our hardworking Dad who was also full of stories from long ago. He had a keen wit and a great sense of humour. The “joke time joke time” sessions made us all laugh even if they were goofy. We are all doing our part to keep all those stories alive, and keep your gifts from dying. We miss you both but we know you are together. Thanks for making us who we are. Your selfless generosity through-out our lives has spread its wings.
So, that famous line; 'The day the music died' and my version; 'The day the stories died', need not be true. Neither, the music nor the stories die. They live on in the words and music of others who loved them. They are passed on and on, never-ending like the love that will never die.