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For over a month now, I've been trying to assemble a piece in tribute to Mumsie that tied together some music with some of the memories that those tunes invoked.

I've finally completed it, in two parts:


Stir of Echoes


Musical Deconstruction of a Life's Worth of Memories.

Many of you "remember" Mumsie -- my mother-in-law who suffered and ultimately died from Alzheimer's Disease. The tribute I've been working on has been my small effort to help you all get to know her even better.

Sometimes within the brain's old
ghostly house,
I hear, far off, at some forgotten
A music and an eerie faint carouse
And stir of echoes down the
creaking floor.

     --   Archibald Macleish, "Chambers of Imagery"

Since the night Mumsie passed, our Alaskan Malamute Jack has been very nervous whenever he passes Mumsie's room. Mumsie didn't pass away in it -- she'd been in a nursing home since the end of May of 2007. Before that, she'd lived with us.

Or, more precisely, we all lived with her. I'd moved in with her and Wifey when Wifey and I first married, thinking we'd find a house in the nearby area. Our plans faded when we realized that Mumsie had been successfully hiding her failing memory and cognitive impairment.

It wasn't long before we realized that we'd be here for the duration.

We were determined to keep Mumsie at home for as long as we could, but in the end -- after four and half years of care -- we finally had to relinquish her care to a nearby nursing home.  She passed away late one night in December, not long after we'd left for home.

For the entire time he lived with us, Malamute Jack loved to explore Mumsie's room; since the night she passed, he doesn't like to enter it alone. He'll often turn his head quickly and look startled as he walks by it, as if he caught sight of something out of the corner of his eye; other times, he won't go past the threshhold -- his eyes widen in fear and he partially cowers, then he either sits down or turns and goes partway downstairs.

In the past two weeks, he's become a ~little~ more at ease, but most of the time he won't go into the main bedroom. He elects to stay within the small anteroom -- a sewing room -- and wait for us to come back out.

We've also heard some strange sounds, similar to what we'd heard when Mumsie was rummaging about upstairs during the time we cared for her. At first, Wifey and I both thought it was each other, until we'd called out and realized we were in adjoining downstairs rooms. With the two dogs.

Jack sometimes hops up from a reclining position to a sitting position and listens intently, his ears trained straight at Mumsie's door; Ember, too, will react to any sound that we can all hear and mimic Jack's action, or go hide under Wifey's desk.

Sometimes, we'd walk past Mumsie's door and it would pop open.

Once in a while, we'd hear a sound like something being knocked off a desk or table up there.

We don't feel beset upon -- the odd sounds and movements here and there have actually been a bit comforting, giving us a sense that the woman who we'd last seen in this life, motionless and unable to move or react, may have moved onward to recover some degree of her mobility once again.

It's a good thought, thinking that her existence didn't end with her physical life.

It certainly provides a measure of comfort to those who have been left behind.

:: ::

I wrote Stir of Echoes to relate some of our experiences and thoughts, and to explain in part why I assembled a playlist of music to help me remember the Mumsie I'd gotten to know

The various tunes on it, in the order they appear, is as follows:

  1. Unwell by Matchbox Twenty

  2. Mother by Pink Floyd

  3. Nobody Home by Pink Floyd

  4. Ice Cream by Sarah McLachlan

  5. Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd

  6. Hold On by Sarah McLachlan

  7. Speak To Me / Breathe by Pink Floyd

  8. Angel by Sarah McLachlan

  9. Here With Me by Dido

  10. Someone to Watch Over Me (written by Gershwin, performed by Sinatra)

  11. Silent Lucidity by Queensryche

  12. I Will Remember You by Sarah McLachlan

  13. Elsewhere by Sarah McLachlan

  14. Is There Anybody Out There? by Pink Floyd

  15. Learning to Fly by Pink Floyd

  16. Fly Me To The Moon by Bobby Darin (and sometimes the Frank Sinatra version)

For an in-depth explanation of what memories each song calls to mind, please check out Musical Deconstruction of a Life's Worth of Memories, too.

Anyone who has ever lost a loved on has their own way of preserving the memories. This is my way of both preserving and sharing those memories, so that Mumsie can continue to live on in the hearts and minds of those who have known her virtually.


Originally posted to GreyHawk on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 04:04 PM PDT.

Also republished by CareGiving Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips or thoughts...? (23+ / 0-)

    I'd be happy to hear if anyone who happens to have radio station or DJ access would do me the favor of queuing up the tunes and dedicating them to Mumsie and to all those who are suffering from or helping those who are suffering from Alzheimer's Disease.

    Thank you.

    Never, never brave me, nor my fury tempt:
      Downy wings, but wroth they beat;
    Tempest even in reason's seat.

    by GreyHawk on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 04:07:27 PM PDT

  •  I doubt this will get the attention it deserves. (9+ / 0-)

    We've got sex, lies and videotapes on the rec list and dozens of wannabees.

    If this, too, slides into another world, will you repost at another, less hype-filled time?

    It's a beautiful thing you have done and I'm going to find a quiet moment to explore your tribute.

    "Don't have nobody to call my own; please, please bring me a dream."

    by MrSandman on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 04:29:12 PM PDT

    •  Thank you, Mr. Sandman. (9+ / 0-)

      I have no doubt that until through the end of the November election, there will not be a calm enough time to repost this. ;)

      I suspect that those who need to will find it sooner or later, however.

      I will also post about it in the next Open Thread or two, to hopefully draw some attention to it.

      I hope you enjoy it and get to know Mumsie a lot better through the tributes.

      Never, never brave me, nor my fury tempt:
        Downy wings, but wroth they beat;
      Tempest even in reason's seat.

      by GreyHawk on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 04:36:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  What a gentle, loving tribute. (7+ / 0-)

    The echoes curve around the space where she was, redefining the shape of a loved woman.  Peace to you and Lady H.

    .uʍop ǝpısdn ʇsı1 ɔǝɹ ǝɥʇ uɹnʇ

    by Crashing Vor on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 04:39:48 PM PDT

  •  My son had a cat that he had (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    3goldens, cfk, GreyHawk, slksfca, joyful, KathyinSC

    since he was a teenager.  When he asked me to move up north with him, I jumped at the chance.  We rented a house together with Kitty and my dog, Ollie.  We had been there about three years when Kitty died. From that time until we moved I would see Kitty sitting on the dining room table, but only out of the corner of my eye.  I finally asked my son and he admitted he saw him too.  Not all the time but frequently. Somethings about life, we don't fully understand. But that convinced me that death is just another door to open.  Great diary Greyhawk, rec'd.

    "Though the Mills of the Gods grind slowly,Yet they grind exceeding small."

    by Owllwoman on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 04:42:41 PM PDT

    •  Thank you, my friend. :) (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ...we still have Missy hanging around, too -- at times, we'll see a big fluffy "Woo" head get ready to nuzzle us out of the corner of our eyes, and we'll reach over to find empty air...

      Jack and Ember both appear to note things that Wifey and I miss, particularly Jack. We think it's because Missy sent him to us so that we'd always have a "big dog" to watch over us.

      Never, never brave me, nor my fury tempt:
        Downy wings, but wroth they beat;
      Tempest even in reason's seat.

      by GreyHawk on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 04:55:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Queensryche:) (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cfk, GreyHawk

    Years ago I could play that song perfectly, solo and all.


    Another Proud Subscriber to the Mariachi Mama Candidate Bickering Moratorium!

    by borkitekt on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 04:45:18 PM PDT

  •  Very nice. (5+ / 0-)

    My mother died last month, and I made a sort of 'tribute CD' of music that was dear to her (and that she taught me to love). My intent was to focus on quiet, contemplative selections; I chose the following:

    Brahms: A German Requiem, 4th movement
    Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 1, second movement
    Mendelssohn: He, watching over Israel (from Elijah)
    Gershwin, Rhapsody in Blue (slow section)
    Bach: Bist du bei mir (played on the Mormon Tabernacle Organ)
    Rachmaninov, Piano Concerto No. 2, second movement
    Brahms, A German Requiem, 1st movement

    Rather limited in tone, and not fully representative of Mom's taste in music--she loved everything from Handel to Hair--but, like I said, I had a specific purpose in mind.

    Thank you for your sweet, thoughtful diary.


    There are, in every age, new errors to be rectified, and new prejudices to be opposed. -Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

    by slksfca on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 04:46:21 PM PDT

    •  Thank you -- it sounds like the idea of preparing (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      a tribute in music is indeed as old as ...well, as old as music and memory.

      Thank you for sharing the selections you made for your mother. Mumsie, too, loved many forms of music -- Rhapsody in Blue was one of the last pieces she heard in this life.

      Never, never brave me, nor my fury tempt:
        Downy wings, but wroth they beat;
      Tempest even in reason's seat.

      by GreyHawk on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 04:57:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Rhapsody In Blue (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GreyHawk, slksfca

      was one of my mother's all-time favorites. I'd like to think she recognized it when we played it on her last day in the physical world.

      Certe, toto, sentio nos in kansate non iam adesse.

      by HawkWife on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 05:24:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is a beautiful tribute, GreyHawk (6+ / 0-)

    And I agree with Mr. Sandman--this is worthy of a great deal of attention that it likely won't get given the current state of politcal madness.  I wanted to thank you so much for sharing this.  From reading it, you've inspired me to do a scrapbook in memory of my dad who died in January, 2003.  I just hadn't thought previously of doing something in writing as you have--and that you chose to use music is just great.  (I have always loved Sarah McLachlan's "I Will Remember You.") Peace to you, Wifey and Mumsie and many thanks for the inspiration.

    •  Thank you, 3goldens...and if your task (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      lends itself to sharing, please feel free to share it with us all.

      I'd be honored to help preserve and prolong the memory of your dad, just as you've all helped us preserve and extend our memories of Mumsie.

      Never, never brave me, nor my fury tempt:
        Downy wings, but wroth they beat;
      Tempest even in reason's seat.

      by GreyHawk on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 04:59:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  a very neat thing to do (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GreyHawk, KathyinSC

    thanks for sharing...


    Join us at Bookflurries: Bookchat Wednesday evenings 8 PM EST

    by cfk on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 04:52:50 PM PDT

  •  Dear Greyhawk... I have every confidence. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I suspect that those who need to will find it sooner or later, however.

    Thank you for placing it within reach.  I look forward to visiting again and again.

    with loving appreciation for Mumsie's legacy and many warm hugs,


  •  *soft smile*... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    My dear friend...your tribute is as beautiful as is your love for Mumsie... I am sure, absolutely sure, that she and Missy are together and are rocking to your selections and smiling together as they settle down to wait for you and Wifey... and Jack and Ember too..

    ((((((((HugsToYou)))))))))  And Brightest Blessings...

  •  Thank you everybody (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GreyHawk, flumptytail, joyful

    Grey suggested that perhaps I add other commentary, but I can't.  Not right now.

    Your thoughts leave me speechless.  I am truly touched.

    Certe, toto, sentio nos in kansate non iam adesse.

    by HawkWife on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 05:27:27 PM PDT

  •  I must have mised the diary about her passing. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I am sorry for your loss.

    I amnow takign care of Dad, and thsi weekend or next, we'll move into the hosue Dad bought here (and prayign that hsi damned hsoue in FL sells before the home equity loan is tapped out and we ahve to amke payments).  Nice hosuem,a nd I feel much better because I know where he is and what's happening, though he isn't a warma nd cuddly old man, more liek a cranky curmudgeon whsoe idea of humor is to tell my hsuband that when I was 4 I kileld the dog (the dog died of sitemper; said dog knew just how far nmy chubby toddler fingers coudl reach under the ocuch when I'd try to catch hima nd owuld stanbd just an inch out of reach barking).  He thinks it's also amusing to tell MiL how spoield I was (I wasn't--as an only chidl and grandchild, Mom ran herd on the grandaprents; only area I was truly idnuklged in was books--THOSE IU coudl ahev as many of as I wanted, but other toys were doled out sparingly on birthdays and holidays).

    I am housebreakign an 87 year old man whso ewife let himg e away with murder.

    The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

    by irishwitch on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 10:44:50 PM PDT

    •  Thank you, my friend, for commenting. (0+ / 0-)

      It's always good to see you in here.

      ...housebreaking an 87 year old man who got away with murder has got to be one helluva job -- I don't envy you one bit.

      I do wish you every bit of luck; curmudgeons can be a challenge, but they also have the capacity to surprise you with random humor. Hopefully, your dad will be like that, and give you the occassional, random fit of laughter.

      Mumsie passed away on December 19. We wrote a piece not long afterward called As I Lay Dying...A Farewell to Mumsie that went over her last day, and the wake a few days later.

      Never, never brave me, nor my fury tempt:
        Downy wings, but wroth they beat;
      Tempest even in reason's seat.

      by GreyHawk on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 10:11:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  My dears, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    are you familiar with Hikari Oe? If not, give a listen.

    Thank you. You enrich us beyond measure.

    •  I'll give a listen -- thank you, my friend. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I always enjoy learning new and wonderful things.


      Never, never brave me, nor my fury tempt:
        Downy wings, but wroth they beat;
      Tempest even in reason's seat.

      by GreyHawk on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 10:12:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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