Musical Health

The best drives are the early drives when the sun comes up. No one else is on the road and the mind switches into autopilot.
The best part of this is the music you choose. And me, I love playing the older songs like the ones I grew up with.
I love the classics that allow me to fall into a time warp. Next, the road is just something I am on. My mind knows what to do. I know when to brake or switch lanes but the music has me someplace else.

There were a few mornings I spent in Florida back when I was taking care of Mom. This goes back when she was living in a small cottage. Her assisted living community was about a 45 minute drive south from where I stayed in Melbourne, Florida. The area was nice and peaceful, which is just what the doctor ordered.
I drove around in a little Minnie Cooper, which was fine with me. The car was cool and the radio worked well enough. In fact, the drive along the shore was exactly what I needed.

I left early one morning to see the sun come up from the East. I drove past the sleepy homes and the beaches along the coast of Florida. It was beautiful. I could smell the salt air.
It was almost as though the music Gods knew exactly what I needed because somehow, while scrolling through the basic radio stations, I came across Chuck Mangione. I listened to him play his horn in a song called Feels So Good.

At the time, I needed the distraction. At the time, I swear the music was a perfect diversion to turn my attention from the sad awareness that trips to see Mom were close to an end.
It was enough to just hear music and let the warm sun come in and find the side of my face through the driver’s side window.

There are times when a song comes on and the music brings me right back to a time when all was well, we were still young, and our life was at the early stages of young adulthood. This was back when my metabolism was moving quickly and I could eat like I was unstoppable.

Van Morrison reminds me of the summer nights on the water in a town called Island Park. Glad Tidings is a good song. So is Into The Mystic. And so is Sweet Thing. I remember. The night would move on and then Brown Eyed Girl would come on.
Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline would play around the same time, late into the night. Drinks were flowing. Everyone was swinging around, dancing, happy and tanned from the summer sun. 
We danced and we carried on and we laughed and we lived. It was a time when youth was all we knew. This was the time before stressful measures took a higher precedence. Our bills were lower and so were our responsibilities. There was no such thing as a mortgage yet. We never thought about things like insurance or retirement packages nor did we know anything about a 401K.
But that’s the thing when you’re young. The last thing we think about is the future because there is no future when you’re young; there’s only the moment. Other than that, who cares?

There are drives I take when the music is right. All the old songs come rushing back to my memory. I think about memories I have and how the music gives them depth. It’s beautiful to be honest; it’s enough to cause a tear in the eye because of the memory from moments passed.
I think about how above all things, music can and will in fact, soothe the savage beast. I think about the words mental health, which I think in this case needs to be reworded as musical health.
Music answers the questions and speaks the words we cannot say. The right song and the right music can hit the mood and change the heart. I know it can. I’ve felt this myself

Mom always liked the song, Times of Your Life by Paul Anka.  And I can’t say that the music hits my taste but I can say the song hits home and reminds me of Mom.
I miss her.
Times of Your Life reminds me of our connection and somewhat explains a little of what Mom felt as she grew older and watched me grow up.
Above all things, the song reminds me to hold onto the memories of my life because life changes drastically.
At the end of the day, all we have is memory, which is what Anka sings in his song.
“Do you remember the times of your life?”
I don’t know if I do. I’m not sure what I remember sometimes. I’m not sure why I remember certain things and not others at all. But the music helps

I remember a rainy drive Upstate in a van during a tough time in my life. The radio played a song by The Allman Brothers called Jessica.
Like I said, I was hurting but somehow the music made everything alright. And then there was the B52’s with a song called the Deadbeat Club.
Again, I have to say the music and my usual taste was not always a match but none of that mattered because at the time, the music was perfect.

This is what happens to me during those early morning drives. I go into a musical timeline and think back about the times of my life.

I was driving in yesterday listening to music from the 80’s and thinking about the terrible fashions we had back then.
I thought about the movies we watched. I thought about the earlier days too when I was younger.

I remembered a time when I was sick. (I know I’ve told you about this before). I was around the age of 8 years-old and totally inconsolable.
Mom tried her best to calm me down but I cried all day. I was throwing up, uncomfortable, and there was nothing Mom could do to help.

I heard The Old Man come home from a long day’s work. I heard him come through the door. Mom told him she couldn’t take it anymore. She said that I was crying all day and that she was tired. she was at her wit’s end.
I heard The Old Man walk up the stairs. He came into my room, which was dimly lit with a nightlight at the base of my desk lamp. The small lamp was made up like a little red light from a ship.
I always loved the ocean and I’ve always loved boats—even back then, which explains the lamp.

The Old Man came into find me curled up in my bed. I had a fever. I was sweaty and crying, trying so hard to sleep or find comfort.
The Old Man knelt down beside my little twin-sized bed. He talked to me a little bit. My shirt rode up on my side to expose my ribs.
The Old Man pointed this out. He pointed to my ribs because I was skinny, He told me my ribs were like keys to a piano. Then he gently pressed on them like a piano key.

Then The Old Man started to sing a song, “Tea for two and two for tea,” which I say again, the song does not hit my taste but for the moment, The Old Man played a tune and helped me to fall asleep. I was certainly too young to know who Doris Day was or about the move from 1950 but none of that matter. The Old Man quietly sung me a song when I couldn’t find comfort. I never forgot that.
I was so uncomfortable. I was so sick, and then there he was, The Old Man. he put me right to sleep.

Years later when The Old Man went down, his heart was beating out of time. We knew he was uncomfortable. He couldn’t hold on. But still, he tried to.

I knelt down to The Old Man’s bedside the same as he did for me. Then I poked at his ribs like he did mine, and safe to say that yes, I sung my Father to sleep for his last time.

It does amazing things.
It makes you think and feel and sometimes forget.
But let me ask, have you ever driven across a long bridge during the sunrise and listen to a really good song?

Trust me. It helps when you need it most.

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