Saturday, July 17, 2010
Johnny and June
Like most, my mother always wanted the best for her children. As an avid music lover, she made sure that each of us were offered music lessons. Mother and daddy worked really hard and times weren't easy back in that day for sure. My mother had a beautiful soprano voice which she used in church choir, solos and the like. As she got older, I noticed she would sing in the alto section at church. I also remember some of her favorite musicians, Floyd Cramer, Lawrence Welk, Boots Randolph, Porter Wagner, Ernest Tubb, Johnny Cash and the Carter Family, to name a few. All of these and more became a big part of my life growing up.
On one occasion, Mother signed us up with a record club. We were able to select several albums a month and anxiously await their arrival in the mail. I can remember my sister and I tickled to death to get to choose our favorite record album each month. There was only one catch, the records would be last year's favorites. I remember taking a Diana Ross and the Supremes Album to my cousin's party and overhearing comments that it was old. But I didn't care, to me, music is timeless. Since mother's dementia, we can't get her to listen to music or watch TV. On a good day, we can turn her CD player on and she'll listen for awhile until she catches our back turned or we leave.
One Sunday morning I thought, I'll turn the radio on to some good Southern Gospel Music, she'll like that. So, that I did and mother did seem to like it. I walked out of the house and remembered I'd left my phone on her bar. When I came in, the radio was off and the player was unplugged.
Months later, I was awakened by my mother calling me on the phone. She seemed a little frightened but more curious than scared. She said "Jean, there's somebody in my basement playing music I can hear it coming up through the vents." Trying not to upset her any further, I assured her that there was no way anyone could be in her basement. The door was locked and an old ladder back chair hung on the knob. Well, she insisted that there was.
Months before this, mother had experienced seeing trucks parked behind her house at the basement door with men outside smoking during the middle of the night so I was confident that this was just another episode, so back to bed I went. As the days and nights passed, mother continued calling and telling other family members what she was hearing. One day she told me she thought she heard it coming from the closet.
Now everyone knows that I am a chicken when it comes to scary things. As a child, mother always made me hang out on the front porch while everyone else in the family watched Shock Theater, due to nightmares. To say the least, it took a lot for me to get up the nerve to open her bedroom closet and take a look, but that I did. Sitting on the top shelf was mother and daddy's old clock radio from our old home place. She apparently had brought it with her when she married Yates. I envisioned all kinds of theories involving ghosts, I could just imagine that old clock radio coming on at night all by itself and Johnny singing "I Walk the Line." Mother kept hearing the music for many more months. I even called the landfill which is directly above her house and through the woods, to ask if possibly a security guard or someone might be playing music up there at night, and she was hearing it. I decided I'd get specific with her one morning and ask what kind of music it was she was hearing and who was singing. She wasn't able to tell me, so I told her the next time it happened to call me, no matter what time it was. She never called but one morning she told me that it was Johnny Cash.
After trying to convince her that she wasn't hearing anything, we gave up and just let her enjoy it! Sometime later she went on to some other calamity and has never mentioned Johnny again.