Saturday, February 19, 2011
Today I reclaimed a part of myself that had been MIA for a very long time. I always loved to sing, and as a child, often sang a cappella in my room for hours for the sheer pleasure of it. When I attended drama school, one of the required courses was singing, but the voice coach said that I had a professional quality voice, that I could become a singer if I wanted to. I didn't have the kind of voice I liked best, Lena Horne, Sarah Vaughan or Julie London, but I sounded exactly like Julie Andrews. And I had perfect pitch.
When Flip and I were first together, I was especially thrilled that he was a musician because I was sure that music had kept me sane through a difficult adolescence and later. The first time he heard me sing, he said, "What did you do with the money?" "What money?" I asked. "The money your momma gave you for singing lessons." I was so hurt that I never sang in front of him again.
This afternoon we had to make an emergency visit to the mall to get his eyeglasses fixed. This is a frequent occurrence, right up there with taking his computer to the Apple store so the Genius (the very best job title, ever) can unscrew it again. We are a fixture in both businesses, and what is more, he seems to choose the worst possible times to animal his glasses apart, like Christmas Eve, when no one with any self-protective instincts would be caught dead at a mall. Today it is pouring. It is raining so hard that all those people with self-protective instincts are undoubtedly building arks, not driving to the mall. I was riding my last nerve.
Our car radio is tuned to the classical music station I love, but today I flipped it to a rock station, which was playing "You Can't Always Get What You Want" by the Rolling Stones, and I forgot myself and began to sing with Mick and the guys. Perhaps Alzheimer's is responsible, but Flip said, "You could do this." He seemed impressed, as if he had never heard my voice before, and perhaps he hadn't. After all, he was the professional musician in the family. I sang along with Van Morrison, Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, Peter Cetera, Sting and Robert Plant while driving through pounding rain, and by the time we got there, I felt that I could handle anything. Even a spouse with Alzheimer's who no longer knows what he's doing and destroys everything he owns, leaving me to pick up the pieces. You can't always get what you want, indeed, but I do believe that we get what we need, even if the reasons are unclear.
What is clear is that I needed to lighten up. I had cut myself off from a source of joy because caregiving is serious business, but singing still makes me happy. Flip's disease has changed both of us, but today he gave me back a piece of myself and I took it and ran. I will always love chamber music, but I think I'll leave my car radio tuned to the rock station for now.
Posted by heartinsanfrancisco at 5:24 PM