Music and Life

My brothers and sisters avowed that they had never known the melody as our parents’ wedding song. How or why she informed of this tune and none of the others did not astound me. There are other things, too, that I know about our parents that the others swear they were never aware of. But this tune has strung itself in my un-musical mind. Whenever I hear it, I know that my now deceased Mother is nearby. Like the time my wife and I seated in a restaurant in the Cancun area of Mexico, and as we commenced to eat, were greeted by it.

Naturally, it finds a place in many of the music lists I set up in my smart phone, tablet, and MP3 player.

Without fail, when it plays, a feeling of sweet sadness enters my soul. As the youngest in a large family, I have no idea what aspirations, hopes, and dreams my Mother had when she married my father. But, I do know, without any doubt, that not a single one of them materialized. Yet, I am held hostage to them by the song that says it all — for me at least.

My father was not a dead beat, but his faults will always signal the disconnectedness of their relationship. The dissonance was always apparent. The beer and wine were but a solution in which he attempted to dissolve the hopes, dreams, and anticipations he had in mind when the wedding song played. Neither, it could be said, provided the other with any level of satisfaction the other required.

The wedding song, which touches me each time I hear it, was for them the beginning of a lifetime of conflicting values, recriminations, sufferings and attempted re-establishment of their relationship. Yet, for me, the air, the tune, the piece of music, represents the candlelight of hope we all savour at that time in our life. That melody, La Paloma, will always affect me.

My Father, too, left me with a piece of music that my siblings do not acknowledge knowing anything about. He played the violin, and, he played it extremely well. To him, the violin was part and parcel of his soul. Each musical phrase was spoken from his heart. I remember him, bedroom door shut, practising his violin almost daily. Sometimes the same refrain over and over to adjust the length of note, the strength of play, the phrasing. The one piece I remember, because I heard it so often, that I snuck in one day after his ‘practise’ to see the sheet music. “Oh, Sweet Mystery of Life”. I did not for many years know the words. When I enquired at music stores for the sheet music, they disavowed that it existed. I began to doubt myself.

Walking through the history of Sienna in Italy, the crisp, clear rendition of the music echoed against the stone walls. My heart leapt into my throat as I discovered anew the song my father played. With the internet, I found it on a recording by Mario Lanza, who gave it as much meaningfulness as my Father’s violin. I purchase it, and, was more than pleased to find inside the jacket, the words. The words. The words which gave to me the meaning my Father had found in his life – the dream he had never captured, the striving he had time and again launched himself to attain, always failing, failing, failing.

These two pieces of music provide me with a toe hold on the meaning of life for myself.

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