All five of us were crammed in my dad’s car as we drove home from dinner at my grandma’s apartment, just as we did every Sunday. My older brother, Tim, sat in the front, continuously jabbing the buttons of the radio until the beginning notes of the Beatles’ “Help” filled the car. My dad reached for the volume knob, turned it clockwise, and rolled the windows down. My dad, Tim, and I began boisterously singing along, as my mom began to shake her head.
“Could we please listen to something else?” She called over the music, “I’ve been with your father for thirty years. I’ve had enough Beatles for life.”
My dad released a soft chuckle and hesitantly pressed a button to play a CD. As Jackson Browne’s voice emerged from the speakers, my mom groaned.
“This is even worse!” She cried, “This man cannot sing!”
A smile widened on my dad’s face as Tim, my younger sister, Claire, and I laughed. My dad pretended to be surprised my mom’s reaction. She tried not to acknowledge his joke.
“Just like the lead singer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, right Momma?” I jested, hinting at her general habit of saying that anyone she disliked sang poorly.
As Tim continued to change the station, my mom found a new reason not to listen to each song. We lovingly teased my mom about her particular taste in music. Banjo music and the lyrics, “If her daddy’s rich take her out for a meal, if her daddy’s poor just do what you feel…” caught my mom’s attention.
“ I love this song!” she shrieked and began singing the melody in her lovely, classically trained, soprano voice, obviously making up the words as she sang. As the song concluded, the DJ announced that we had heard “In the Summertime” by an obscure one hit wonder, Mungo Jerry. We erupted with laughter.
That was four years ago; my family still alludes to the story often. My family has an impeccable ability to remember small tidbits of information. Events and details that most people would forget shortly after their occurrence, we not only remember, but frequently reference.
Music ties us together; we listen to it, we interpret it, we make it. Some evenings my dad and I sit down together and listen to songs, look up the lyrics, and talk about their meanings. Other times, Tim, Claire, and I log onto Youtube to share our latest favorites. Most commonly, someone will quote a line from a song and we all dance around poorly as an off-key verse or two fills our cluttered orange kitchen, complimenting the homey smells of my mom’s cooking. My family has shown me how to remember details, but also how to be compassionate and laugh at myself. Through their example, I have learned how to get along with others, form close relationships, and look for the positive in every situation. I believe in laughter. I believe in family. I believe in love.