This semester, I have the chance to take a media & the family class. Recently, one of the lectures was on the power of music. It’s interesting that before my mission, I felt the need of constant stimulation from music. I would spend hours making CD’s of 20 or so songs to jam out to in my car for a particular month, or I might need to take a dancing break in the grocery store if the correct tune roared on the overhead at just the right second. My roommates and I would dance in our apartment to get away from schoolwork and I found my iPod to be my only source of refuge as I trained for a half marathon.
What I find interesting, is how that’s all changed. Since my mission, I feel that sometimes I prefer silence in the car just so I can have a few moments of quiet to think. The other day as I was driving and thinking about music (but ironically not listening to it) I was reminded of a song by Rascal Flatts called Ellsworth. The song is a story about an elderly lady who has Alzheimer’s disease (AD). I remember this song came out and then a few years later my sweet Grandma Palmer was diagnosed with AD and I just felt a connection to the song.
I watched as my Grandma who I had loved to sit and talk to for hours, who had perfect penmanship, and was an immaculate homemaker– overtime forgot who I was, couldn’t write her own name and unable to even wash dishes or sweep the floor. My heart ached for her and my grandpa. They had lived such good lives and I remember being angry and sad that AD had chosen them as victim.
The silver lining in my Grandma’s story was that while the disease took over her brain and she had the hardest time remembering things or doing even the simplest of tasks, just like the song says, “..but bring up Grandpa, it’s like someone flipped a switch.” She always remembered my Grandpa. So instead of feeling sorry for myself, I would often think of that song and be happy that she always remembered him. This song gave me courage to go over to their house once a week and know that while my Grandma might think its December in July or that we were conspiring against her in another room, that deep down, she really did know who we were. She loved us and always would.
After a long fight with AD & Parkinson’s disease Grandma (as Judy Seegmiller says in her book) graduated from this life. To this day, whenever I hear that song it brings tears to my eyes and helps me remember that she fought a brave fight and while we can’t choose our trials, we can choose how we react.
I’m grateful that while music may not be such a a center for me, that music does help elevate my mood, help me relive past memories, & help me connect with loved ones.