She Put the Music in Me (2 Mom Stories)

I'm posting from Provo, Utah, where I am attending an annual Women's Conference at BYU. I attended years ago (1999?) with my Mom, sisters and sisters-in-law and have such happy memories, but I've never made it back again, until now. My dear friend, Allison Barnes texted me about six weeks ago and asked if I wanted to meet her here. I hesitated for a moment or two, then checked the dates and realized that I could purchase a one-way ticket down and then drive back to Spokane with Clark. So, stay in the BYU dorms, reconnect with my wonderful friend and then enjoy 11 hours of alone time with my boy? Count me in!

Last night we were treated to an evening of entertainment, where we listened to several singers and musical groups. It was outstanding. I was introduced to Calee Reed and her song, She Put the Music in Me. Calee lost her mother to cancer when she was in her early twenties and this video is a tribute to her. It along with the lyrics tell her story and with actual video and images from their life together. Watch it. It will stir strong emotion for anyone who loves photos and story. 

I wrote a story for my Mom in my last post and mentioned there and on social media that I am helping promote a cool Mother's Day contest. This week I have the privilege of reading several mom stories and selecting my favorite, as a weekly winner in this "Queen for a Day" contest. All of the stories were fascinating and touching, and it was HARD to choose one over the others, but when we returned to our dorm room last night I read (again) each story, I experienced one of those moments of synchronicity. One of the stories, like the video above is about a mom who loved music and instilled that love in her daughter. As you read it, think about the things that trigger memories of your mom and then WRITE THEM DOWN! There is great power in our memories, we need to share them.

My mother inspired me with her music since I can remember. As a matter of fact, her mother was her own inspiration, and she got the musical ball rolling for my mother when she was a young girl. Growing up in the Depression era wasn't easy, but my grandmother went without anything but the bare necessities to scrape together enough money to pay for her daughter to take piano lessons through her teenage years. My mother would announce after each evening meal (and before the dishes were to be washed) that she was going to do her practicing. She knew full well that her mother would be pleased and would enjoy listening to her from the kitchen while she did dish duty in place of my practicing mother.

When I reached the first grade, it was my mother's turn to nurture the musical side of me. She would have me sit beside her on the piano bench as she lovingly played and sang "Sweet Little Buttercup.” My first exposure to music was accompanied by warmth, love and sharing. I would also hear her singing as she worked around the house. If, during a conversation with family or friend, the topic reminded her of a song, my mother would begin singing it, and everyone would listen and wait until she stopped before finishing the conversation.

I was very moved when I noticed the same thing happening when she was playing bridge in the assisted living home during her final year of life. The circumstances were tough, and in spite of not being able to play her game as skillfully as she once had, and in spite of her health issues, she would often break out in song during the middle of the game when the conversation inspired her. The other players would quietly sit and listen, and then resume playing when she finished her song. If you spent much time around my mother, you would get used to her singing interludes, as if that were what everyone did as a part of daily routines.

After she took a fall and was in the hospital for hip surgery, and was being wheeled to the operating room, the doctor complimented her on her beautiful blue eyes. Upon hearing that, her foot began tapping under the sheet, and she sang "Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue" as they wheeled her in for surgery.

That was that last time anyone ever heard her. She passed away a couple of hours later while in the recovery room and those beautiful blue eyes would be closed forever.

I miss you Mom. Thanks for all those songs!

Story written by: Susan Bright Nguyen


If you write a story for your mother, or simply share some memories of her, I hope you'll let me know. Send me a link to a blog or Facebook post or just email me. I want to champion this effort to pay tribute to mothers everywhere!