Friday, January 4, 2013


What's in the soundtrack of your life? What kind of music sustains you? Does music sustain you?

I ask because these days, Barbara is humming constantly. Mostly, it's tuneless humming but it's humming nevertheless. Music soothes, both the savage breast and the Alzheimer's patient.

My grandmother, of whom I've written numerous times, loved the hymns of our church. We're Methodists and our faith was born in song. Charles and John Wesley are both the founders of the church and two its most prolific hymn writers. Their hymns are rich and powerful and, if you grew up in the church, they live with you forever.

When we didn't or couldn't go to church, Granny would have church in the living room. Church of the Divine Living Room I called it the other night, when my sister and I were reminiscing about it. We did not like it a whole lot, but it wasn't as though you had any real choice about attendance. If you were in their house, you were going to the Church of the Divine Living Room. It wasn't optional. When my mother and her siblings were children, the same occurred. If there was inclement weather, or illness, or some other issue that precluded church attendance, Church of the Divine Living Room assembled at about 10 o'clock Sunday morning. Heck, in my family we even have a family psalm (Psalm 1) that made an appearance at every home church or other celebration. At least two generations of my family grew up hearing that psalm read or sung tucked in between the lusty singing of some of Granny's and Daddy's favorite hymns....with Granny on the piano of course.

So fast forward now about forty years. Mummy is drifting slowly into the abyss and the soundtrack of her life remains the hymns of her childhood. When things are not going well; when she's clearly discombobulated or altered; when she's diffident or difficult (or downright scary), we turn on the hymn CD. She hums along and calms down.

There are two things I know for sure about AD: first, is that music memory is the last to go and second is that as a consequence of one, music may be the only way to calm a patient when words no longer have any meaning.

So what's in the soundtrack of your life? What soothes and sustains your spirit? For us, it is music that soothes. Thank God for it!

The family Psalm

Psalm 1

King James Version (KJV)
Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.
Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

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