My husband and I were in the car driving, listening to the radio, when Mozart’ s Serenade 13 in G Major (Eine kleine Nachtmusik) came on the radio. In case you are not familiar, here it is.
My mother immediately came to mind. I could picture her at the ironing board, her glass Pepsi bottle with the sprinkler top on the ironing board, as she ironed my father’s shirts. When she was ironing she always had music on. This was my introduction to Mozart. I am able to hum along with every piece that was on that album. Her other favorite was Harry Belafonte. The album cover was red with a photo of Harry Belafonte on the cover. Day-O was a favorite, but Jamaica Farewell was the song she sang with. My mother did not have a singing voice, this was no secret in our family, she could hold a tune, but her voice was not strong. But when she was at the ironing board and Jamaica Farewell came on she didn’t care. Not only did she sing, she danced as she ironed. It was more swaying with the music as she sang, sprinkling the shirts to wet them and then pressing the iron to them, gliding it across. All to the calming beat of Jamaica Farewell.
Music is so often tied to our memories, we hear a song that takes us back to where we were in life at the time. It surprised me at how vivid this memory was, how my association with these songs allowed me to conjure up an image so clear in my mind some close to 50 years later. I smiled remembering those ironing moments, when my mother, not one to reveal much of herself, or to let her guard down, was able to do so behind her ironing board with iron in hand. To come out of herself a bit, and perhaps that is why I remember it so strongly. It was unlike her to be so uninhibited.
As my husband and I continued to drive, I looked up Jamaica Farewell on my phone and played it out loud. I still knew every word.