My mother whistled it seemed, constantly. If I ever lost her in a store, I would just listen for whistling. I learned it meant that all was well in her world. I am not even sure I could pinpoint an actual song or tune, I am sure she knew it, it just wasn’t common to me. I don’t remember her really listening to music or the radio except for maybe LPs when I was little. She had bird song cassettes that my son can remember always being on when he would visit her as a child.
We had an old rocking chair (origins unknown, its whereabouts unknown) that she would sit and rock me (and my brother) and sing to us. Maybe bedtime, maybe when we were sad, maybe when we just needed a break. Just a running soundtrack of song after song, in no order, sometimes repeating. Later I realized they were mostly old girl scout songs and folk songs, she had learned at camp (she was a 25+ year girl scout, me not so much).
In 2003, I found a blank book with Maya Angelou quotes and filled it with pictures and things I had written and gave it to her for Christmas. [An aside, if you do have someone you can write things to now, do it. You remember better and those written now things can trigger other memories when you read them later. It hurts if you get them back when the person has passed; but what a wonderful gift to give someone] The following was one of the pages. I think it shows best how I remember her singing to me and the random of the songs but how they all flowed together. (She would sing the whole song before blending into the next; this was more my remembering parts)
The squeak, the creak, the sigh of the rocking chair
Snuggled close, almost too close to hear the words but only the soft rumble of the sound before it is spoken.
‘sweetly sings the donkey at the break of day, if you do not feed him; dark brown is the river, golden is the sand, they flow along forever; make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold; bed it too small for my tiredness, give me a hilltop with trees; Desert silver moon beneath the pale star light, Coyotes yappin’ lazy on the hill; day is done, gone the sun, from the hills; In Dublin’s fair city, where girls are so pretty; A gypsy’s life is free and gay, O faria; Rise up of flame by thy light glowing; Peace I ask of the oh River, peace, peace, peace, when I learn to live serenely cares will cease; Let every good fellow, now join in our song, Vive la compagnie!; Swinging along the open road under a sky that’s clear. Swinging along the open road in the fall of the year; Follow winding paths through the forest, follow gentle streams to lakes of blue; I love to go a wandering along the mountain track and as I go I love to sing, my knapsack on my back; Zum gali gali gali, Zum gali gali.; whener’ you make a promise consider its importance.’
Cuddled in a quilt, surrounded in song and love, safe and at peace.