By Marshall Vandruff
I am 42 years old as I write this about my mother, Eleanor, who is eighty years old in the year 2000.
I always took her for granted. After all, she was my mother. She was always there when I wanted her and sometimes even when I didn't. She did all the things moms do to take care of their kids, and in that way she was like any other good mom, but that's all taken for granted. I am thankful to her for something that may seem trivial, but was in fact my most treasured memory of her raising me. She sang. She sang to entertain me. She sang me to sleep. And even now, when I can keep her mind on it, she sings with me at gatherings and on the phone. She sings hymns. She sings popular songs from the 1930's and 40's, which were her era. Of all the things my mother did, singing is the thing that has most affected my affections for her. I am glad that as a middle-aged man, while discovering the delightful depths of George Gershwin and Cole Porter and Hoagy Carmichael, that I can call my parents and talk to them about these songs that seem so fresh to me, and that they remember from the hit parade fifty and sixty years ago!
My first introductions to songs like "It Had To Be You" and "I'm In The Mood For Love" came from listening to her voice on old shellac records. They were recorded from about 1938 until the 1940's at the radio station in Oklahoma City where she had her own program. I listened to those records many times as a child, and still do occasionally to remind myself of what my mother was like when she was a single, twenty-something, public figure in Oklahoma City, not my mom.
Mother, I will have your voice in me all my life. So will my son Rembrandt, as he hears the echoes of you in me. Thank you for loving to sing and indulging me in this gift.
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