Yesterday I had the difficult task of traveling to Saginaw, Michigan (my hometown) to do a final sweep of my childhood home. The memories came flooding back as I walked through the nearly bare rooms. My parents moved to that house when I was just a year old. My father ultimately ended up dying inside its walls. The house was full of happiness and love – it saw family sharing smiles, first dates, weddings, anniversaries, grandchildren being born, laughter, games, holidays… just so much is tied up in that little house. At times, it also saw its share of heartache – the loss of family and friends, anger, fights, hospital scares, illnesses, broken relationships… normal family intricacies that are so often present.
My absolute favorite quote of all time is “A happy childhood can’t be cured. Mine’ll hang around my neck like a rainbow, that’s all, instead of a noose.” by Hortense Calisher, Queenie, 1971. It is so true, for the good outweighed the bad in my life. I wear my rainbow with pride in the hopes that my children will have the same happy and satisfying memories of their youth that I have of mine. In our house, we have stumbled upon a nightly tradition that aids in the meeting of our bedtime deadline. Just about every single night, either my husband or I (and sometimes together) sing “Somewhere over the Rainbow” to the children. This ritual calms them down remarkably while allowing their minds to prepare for rest. It has the threefold purpose of putting the children to sleep, making me smile and giving me an opportunity to show off my vocal talents (those that are left after years of disuse/abuse). The clip you see next is from the movie “Wizard of Oz” – which was one of my mother-in-law’s favorite movies. What an amazing voice Judy Garland had.
We’ve had a lot of losses in our family in the last several years. In the last 4 years alone we have lost both our mothers, my father, several grandparents and an uncle of my husband’s, and even our pets – 3 dogs and a cat. We are no stranger to death, it is a topic I have had to confront with my young children on a regular basis. I desperately wish at times that I didn’t have to deal with the losses, the grief can be so overwhelming. My heart has been heavy ever since I closed the door to “my” home. So I turned to the things I love the most – my family, ballet, music and writing. So many songs say so much, but as I am thinking about my memories – “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” keeps cropping up. The next clip is one of my favorite versions performed by Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwo’ole.
My thoughts are disjointed and pensive as I write. Probably a good sign that I ought to tie things up. My post was not meant to bring you down, but to encourage you to look for the things that make you celebrate life. I don’t sing this song to make my children sad – I sing it in joy. I sing it to encourage my children to look beyond where they are now, to the time in their life when dreams really do come true.