"Look what I have to put up with." my Mother groans.
This is her new phrase, her repetitive response to everything that doesn't agree with her.
Mom loves to sing, she once was the Cherub Choir leader at her church.
She loved to sing with her students, her annual school play was always a musical. She would always teach her students songs that reflected on materials they were learning: Learning about frogs, she's got a song for that. Learning about the Statue of Liberty, she'll teach you a song about that. Learning about self-esteem and tolerance, she's found songs about them too. She was a member of her church choir for many years, until her last performance when she passed out under the piano on Mother's Day.
The activities people at Mom's assisted living residence include music and singing in the daily activities. I'm sure this is as successful as it is because of the background of the residents and their deep rooted love of music. One day the residents were all walking back to their neighborhood from an activity in a different part of the building. I could hear them coming down the hall. A little parade of ladies and gentlemen all singing together, just because. Another day Mom's neighbors were gathering for supper, but the food had not yet arrived. So we all started singing silly songs about food. "On top of spaghetti, all covered with chee-eeese..." Do you know, these folks knew ALL the verses!
Yesterday, during my visit with Mom, the activities director stopped by to invite Mom to sing.
"The Stuvwxyz Singers are gathering in the parlor, we need your voice." She has turned a routine activity into a singing group. They are a choir, they are practicing, they have a purpose. They take their music to share with the other neighborhoods of the assisted living residence.
We are singing rounds today, Frère Jacques and others.
"Mom, I remember you teaching us to sing this round in Jr Girl Scouts."
"Look what I have to put up with." she replies.
So I hear it, the disdain in her comment. She knows that she should be the one leading the singing. She knows that she should be teaching today's songs in four part harmony, as these are adults who can sing. That they are all singing children's rounds is... silly.
But, she can't keep the four lines of the song in order in her head. She can't keep on track as we break apart into two groups to sing the round as a round.
We move on the other songs. Songs with lyric sheets. Her reading skills are not so good. She is stumbling with the printed word. Songs she knows, but she doesn't.
What she thinks she is capable of doing and what she can do are far apart.
I think back to when she was living alone at home. She thought she was cooking, eating, bathing, cleaning... but she wasn't. She thought she was driving safely... but she wasn't.