I read a blog post today on Alzheimer’s Reading Room that brought back fond childhood memories of car trips to the Midwest. My dad’s family lived in Wisconsin and Minnesota, but we lived in Washington, DC. We would drive out to see them about once a year. Mom would load up the car and we would take off after Dad got home from work that day, drive as far as Pennsylvania or Ohio, stop for the night, and get to my Aunt Pat and Uncle Ed’s place in Tomah, WI in time for dinner.
When my brother and I were little, we would ride in the back seat, and to keep us distracted from squabbling (as we were prone to do), Dad would sing. There were some songs that became family traditions, and one of them was mentioned in that blog post I read – Shine On, Shine On Harvest Moon. I can still hear his wonderfully deep voice in my memory. Later, when I was old enough to help read the map, I would get to sit up front with Dad and serve as “co-pilot/navigator”. I would pester him until he would start singing, even though he didn’t need to keep me and my brother apart any more.
The author of the blog writes about his mother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, and that she started singing that song when she saw the full October moon – the Harvest Moon. I decided that I would find the song, download it to iTunes, play it for Dad and see if he remembered the words!
When I started searching iTunes, it became a challenge to see if I could remember all of the songs we used to sing on those road trips. I found 4 of them! I still sing Barnacle Bill the Sailor – at least the chorus, which is all the words I think I ever knew. (That is because Dad probably must have left out the “saltier” part of the song!)
A third song took me a little longer to find. I figured out I was spelling Katy/Katie wrong! “K-K-K-Katy, beautiful Katy! You’re the only G-G-G-girl that I adore! K-K-K-Katy, beautiful Katy! I’l be waiting at the K-K-K-Kitchen door!”
Another song I remember singing was actually Dad’s made-up version of H-A-double R-I-G-A-N. He would sing “H-O-Gee-ee –A-N, H-O-G-A-N spells Hogan, Hogan.” Even though they weren’t the original words, the song still helped instill my sense of Irish pride!
So today, when I go see him, I will have 4 songs to play. Even if he doesn’t remember the words, I hope the music will bring a smile to his face. It sure did to mine!