I had the pleasure this past week to travel from my home in UT to visit my mother in her senior living apartment in Matthews, NC. Since we live so far apart, it is a real treat to get to spend time together.
She had a tough start to 2023 and spent about 10 weeks or so in hospitals and in rehab following some medical procedure and some falls in her apartment. This was my first visit since she was able to return to her place in March. I was able to visit her several times while she was in the hospital and rehab. However, that is not the same as a normal, relaxed visit.
On one of the nights of my visit, we decided to cook dinner together. She had a couple steaks and we went shopping earlier in the day to get the remainder of the meal. You can watch some of this in the video below.
We enjoyed cooking and we were thrilled to sit down and eat the fruits of our labor.
I decided to play some music while we ate. I chose some songs from my John Prine selection and sat down to eat.
We were thrilled with our work and the food was delicious. Shortly after the first John Prine song played, his song, “I Remember Everything” was next up. This is referred to his last song. (Watch/Listen here)
As we were listening to the song, without coordination, we both stopped talking and were eating silently.
As always happens when I listen to John Prine, I think of my step father John Smith. He and my mother were married in 1973. John Smith introduced our family to a lot of music, but none more powerful that the music of John Prine.
I can still remember those early albums, John Prine, Diamond in the Rough, and the incredible Sweet Revenge. I would listen to them over and over, especially Sweet Revenge. Prine’s songs were amazing stories, made me smile and introduced me to incredible song writing.
As we were looking down at our food, I thought of my step father. He came into my life when I was nine and treated me as his son. He was a terrific father who himself was a great storyteller, made me smile, and was very creative.
My thoughts turned to my mother, who fell in love with him, and whose life changed with John in his presence. They had a good marriage, but it was not perfect. Nonetheless, they endured and thrived.
My mother loved him dearly.
As I was thinking about him having passed about seven years ago, I remembered when John Prine died, and both my mother and I talked about and shared our heartbreak together.
As I was enjoying the delicious meal that my mother and I prepared, I realized I was in a moment.
I was enjoying a wonderful evening with my mother and feeling grateful to be with her and at the same time I was feeling the pang of memories of John Smith and John Prine.
I felt my eyes start to tear up. I looked down at first to try to hide it then. But then I decided I was going to acknowledge it. I felt she was feeling the same.
It took me a few moments to be able to speak, but I was able to squeak out the following, “I always think of Johnny Buck (the nickname for my step-dad) when I hear John Prine.”
Without making eye contact with me, she continued eating and replied softly, “Me too.”
I am so grateful that my mom and I created a new memory that evening cooking together and that we also were able to be connected through memories and music.