Music saved my life. The first song I remember truly moving me was Amazing Grace. My great Aunt was the church organist for 50+ years until her husband passed and she began to show signs of Alzheimer’s after she had to live on her own for the first time in 60+ years. One of my last memories of her is so surreal, I will never forget it. Her son was in town packing up her belongings in preparation to move her closer to where his family lived, into an assisted living facility. He asked me to help and I of course said yes. How could I say no to one of the sweetest lil’ ladies in my life. She baked me chocolate pie on every birthday as far back as I can remember, including the one I’d had that year, Alzheimer’s and all. She still remembered and had everything she needed already stocked in the cupboards.
We figured out that something might be wrong when she would go to the grocery store and buy the same list she had on her refrigerator almost every day, cook for two and wait for her husband to get home. My heart couldn’t take it when i saw 50 boxes of chocolate pudding and probably 100+ cans of green beans. The grocery store just figured she was cooking for families in need at our church. She always brought green bean casserole to potlucks and family dinners. (My favorite) She loved me, and I loved her.
Jump back to moving day, almost the entire house is packed up, less a few boxes of this and that kind of stuff that we weren’t sure what to do with yet. The living room in her ranch style house completely empty except for her grand piano, white walls, white carpet, white ceiling, and these three tall backed leather bound chairs from the old Masonic lodge. She sat in the piano, I sat in the middle chair at the other end of the room and she began to play hymns.
“Oh Nick! What are you doing here?”
“I’m here to help you move Georgia.”
Her son was so upset and frustrated at this point, but she was so happy to hear the answer every time she asked. It was the least I could do to have the same conversation 20 times an hour.
“Oh my, thank you so much! Where are we going again?”
“Denver I believe, all the way up the mountains!”
She plays Go Tell It On the Mountain.
“What is your favorite hymn? I’ll play it for you.”
“That’s one of my favorites too!”
She began playing and singing, four verses. I choked down tears and tried to take in how beautiful this moment was. She finished and her son came into the room and said that it was time to go to the hotel. I helped him load up the last few boxes in the truck while she asked if they were going to bring her piano (probably for the one hundredth time). He explained with at much patience as he could muster that there wouldn’t be room in the truck or in her new place. My heart fell a little further down, but I had that memory, and that was worth more than gold. I said goodbye, knowing that would probably be the last time I saw her. Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.