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The Music Talking To My Soul

Cathy McCammon

When I was asked to do this project I shuddered. I told her "I don't have any memories of my past." But she asked me questions, and I discovered that my memories were all tied to music. It started with my mom's diary. Mom died almost two years ago. I loved my mom and my mom loved me. What I did not know was that my mother had been contemplating suicide. That took me by storm. My mother always displayed a positive outlook. We all knew how unhappy she was with my father, but she never left him. I could never understand why she stayed. She was independent, strong-willed and beautiful. When I was reading her diary it changed my perspective on my life.
Beep-bop, shoo-bee-doo-doo. The music was always here. I can't live without the music. I don't ever remember growing up without it. It doesn't matter what kind of music; rock, R & B, rap, classical, or jazz.

My father was a mean SOB. He would rant and rave seemingly endlessly. He would curse people out for no reason. Every Friday night was bridge night for mom. She played bridge every Friday night until her death. And every Friday afternoon my dad would fuss and curse my mom out about her bridge club. I would be upstairs because it was nothing new. He cursed the afternoon away, and she played bridge the whole night through. Funny I had forgotten about those fights but I remember the music playing. I found peace and comfort in the music. I knew that my mom would be okay. They fuss and there was the music. They cursed and there was the music. They made up and there was the music.

When I left for college I was going to pursue Cinema Photography. I knew I wanted to do something in the entertainment industry. My mom said to me "What kind of job are you going to get?" At that moment I stopped listening to the music. I stopped listening and following my heart. I didn't realize it until this very moment that when the music stopped so did I. I changed majors. My mother thought I should pursue a career in clothing and textiles. She had noticed that I was a good seamstress, as was my grandmother before me. Now there I was ignoring my calling to live out some long lost fantasy that maybe my mom had given up. Her diary entry for this period says, "What is the use? C. is gone. I don't have any reason to live. Death seems to be the only answer to ending this union. Finally J. can have his damn house." Why did she clip my wings and shatter my dreams? Had my father clipped my mom's wings?

My mom stayed busy just like me. She got her license for Practical Nursing LPN). She got her state license to sell real estate. She did not pursue real estate sales because of my dad's 7 o'clock curfew. Everyone had to be in his house or gone by 7 p.m. She got her beauty license to be a licensed beautician. She went back and got a pharmacology certificate to pass medicines in her capacity as a LPN. Despite my father's attempts to control her, she quietly fought back. She always kept doing things. I wondered if she had stopped would the music have caught up with her? Do-re-mi-fa-la-so-ti-do. I'm sure she had "only the best intentions," but her opinion mattered to me. It mattered to me because I knew she loved me. I sometimes feel she stayed with my father because of me. But when I left for college I don't understand why she didn't go. I read in her diary she questioned what else did she have to live for. She never talked about the how-to of killing herself, but she eluded vividly her wishes to die.

I reflected on that thought of her wanting to kill herself. I'm glad she didn't, but I wonder what made her get through? I often think about my mom. Did she have some special calling that she answered to? Had she heard music in her soul and ignored it? Something kept her here with us.

So I stopped listening to the music. That's not correct. I heard the music, but I refused to answer the call. My father as mean as he was, was an excellent dancer. He loved to dance and the nightlife. In a lot of ways I am like my father. I love to dance, the music atmosphere, and the people. My dad was so miserable. I don't know if he had any dreams of doing big and special things. He was a chauffeur. He loved the music too. The music was always where he was. Since he had me late in life he was retired, and the music was always surrounding me. Maybe his misery was seeing his wings clipped by being colored in America around the depression. There were not many opportunities for colored men who loved to dance. He possibly felt his wings were clipped so he attempted to clip my mom's.

My mom out of love and wanting the best for me clipped my wings.

I see a pattern. My oldest son loves to write lyrics. He has dreams of being a rapper. Last summer I did my best not to discourage this interest. Oh my God, could I be passing on the legacy that my father unknowingly left? Maybe the music spoke to my father. I feel the music was in his soul. Never a day went by that he did not have his music. He drank a lot. It was strange the music playing and his drinking. It's ironic when I think about it, that he listened to the music for its magnetic powers and then drank to drown out its call.
When I stopped listening to the music, I dropped out of college. I married and quickly doused the music out with motherhood and family. Focusing on being a "good mom" kept the music in my soul still. With my soul being still, I could not afford to be still. If I stopped the music would catch up with me.

I like my mother had to keep moving. I began to drift. I went back to school to become a Registered Health Information Technologist (RHIT). After receiving my Associate I found that marriage was not the answer. I soon filed for divorce. I later became involved with a married man. My sister and I began our own cleaning service. I studied real estate. Like I said I began to drift. When my mom discouraged me from pursuing my dreams I now realized that I had not just lost my dream, but I also lost my faith. Music was the constant in my life. Rat-a-tat-tat-scoo-bee-doo-doo-sha-zam.

My divorce was a good thing. I began an active social life. I started listening to the music again. When I began listening to the music again, I noticed the calmness I started feeling. I had never noticed until music reentered my life. Not having the music I experienced great vexation and indecisiveness. It has now dawned on me that all the times when I lived in turmoil of my father's verbal abusiveness to my mom I was not "worried" because the music was the constant. As long as I heard the music, no matter how bad my dad got I knew everything was going to be okay.

Shortly after I received my Associate in Health Information Management I began to volunteer at the local radio station. I can't explain the peace and the rightness of being with the music. I had volunteered for over six years at the radio station and I could not understand why. Doing this examination of my life I now know that it is for the love of the music. It speaks to me. It's like a painter looking at a blank canvas. To those of us who are not painters we see only a blank canvas. The painter sees a picture. He/she knows exactly where the sun is positioned over the mountains. He sees the exact shade of blue that the sky is at sunset. He sees the precise angle that the wind is blowing the grass. And that rabbit over there that is barely noticeable he has captured its essence. That is the way the music is for me. I don't just hear the overall sound of the song. I hear each little word and a particular message it is giving. The piano, the drums, the violin, or the flute are not lost to an overbearing trombone. Each instrument speaks a distinctive language to my listening ears. I pay attention to the arrangements of the instruments. None of them can escape me.

I hate my job. This is not my calling. Why am I in coding? My former husband told me that, "that is where the money is." Since I was still drifting I felt like why not. In reading my mom's diary I found that I am a lot like her. She lived her life attempting to please and make other people happy. That's what I have been doing. I was attempting to live the life that other people thought was best for me. It's like what the Bible says, "You can not serve two masters." I could not listen to the music and other people's opinion about what I should do. So in trying to accommodate them, I ignored the music talking to my soul.

My mother's diary started my spiritual journey. Mother did not kill herself. In her diary she writes, "Never give up. Be persistent. Let go, and let God. Don't be afraid to believe in yourself. Trust yourself." For me to trust myself means I have to listen to the music talking to my soul.

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