Music has been an important part of my life, since before I was born. When my daughter was a teenager, I shared with my mother the fact that my daughter and I loved the same old song. It was an “old” Italian song that I had heard in a movie. I didn’t know what the song meant at the time; I just loved the melody. The song was “Al di la” by Emilio Pericoli, which was in the movie, Rome Adventure. My daughter and I would hum the tune together and giggle. The song was in a movie I had watched during one of her three am feedings when she was a baby. As I told her that, she shared with me a song that she really loved from a new movie we had just seen, Leap Year, “Dream a little dream of me”, by Doris Day. The movie was new, the song was old.
As I shared the story with my mom telling her that I had looked up the Italian song and then played it for her over the phone. My mom named the title and the original singer of the song. Then she told me about when I was a baby, she would hold me and dance to the radio playing that song. In that moment she shared that during her pregnancy she had been stressed because her brother had been drafted to the Vietnam war and she was very worried that my dad too would be drafted. My mom was so excited when she discovered she was pregnant. She had miscarried before and wanted to do everything she could not to lose “this baby” which was me.
Because music had always been an important part of her life. She tried to listen to music every day to help her through the stressful events. During her pregnancy she was living in a temporary place, Washington Heights in New York City. She along with everyone in her family hoped they would soon return to Cuba. In Cuba she had played piano in concerts and won musical competitions. In New York, her focus was paying rent and buying food. She also didn’t have a piano with which to express her love of music. Her source of music was the radio.
Her memory reminded me of the many times we would play records as we cleaned the apartment when I was a child. So many songs that remind me of those events. We were doing chores that I hated, but it was tolerable with music.
I realize now that music builds sanity. Listening to music is meditative in the way that it takes me to a calm peaceful place that it safe and happy. Peace and happiness from music is part of my genic code that I pass on to my children. A coping mechanism that will help us survive challenging times. Can music help you? Play your favorite song and think of your happy times.