The Magic of Mother’s Music

Solidago-juncea-Early-GoldenrodWhen the goldenrod plumes beckon in the autumn season, my mother would pull the car to the side of the road and wade into a stranger’s pasture to gather an armful.

I can still see her–standing at the sink, snipping the unwieldy stalks into line, singing a song, softly, as though only to the flowers, maybe promising them that once snipped and arranged, they will bring joy to all who behold.

And they did.

I can hear her at the piano, Chopin’s passion mingling with the smell of dinner cooking. It remains a mystery as deep as cosmic swirling how she concocted wonderful meals and dresses for me and my sister, kept our household going and our little genius brother occupied, and worked on improving education, the environment, and ethics laws in Alabama without seeming to lift a finger.

But I think maybe she danced to the music.

Once, Tchaikovsky flooded the house, and I discovered her lying prone on the back porch. She looked up at me and said, “I tried a little pirouette .” —Groan.  “I was the Sugar Plum fairy in the Nutcracker when I was sixteen, you know.”


“Oh, Mom, you’re not sixteen anymore.”

She sighed, “I know; I know.” Then she fixed me with her hazel eyes, “Don’t tell your father.”

Father was always fussing because Mother danced through life to music only she heard. She was oblivious to the open kitchen cabinet doors and the proximity of their points to her head as she moved about preparing a meal, not to mention the annoying cars and other road accessories that dinged her car because her attention was . . . elsewhere. With the music maybe. But she always returned right back down to earth when her children needed her to Band-Aid the hurt or feed them or give wise advice.

Only later, when she was gone, did I understand the challenges life dealt her or tried to. She never showed her hurts to me.

Once, during Thanksgiving I skipped down to the basement to retrieve the chocolate pies for our twenty-plus guests. My hands full on the return trip, I tried to switch off the light and ended up juggling both pies for a dicey moment before, like Mother’s pirouette, they performed a graceful flip in midair, landing with a smack, face-down on the cement floor. In tears, I reported I had ruined Thanksgiving.

“Of course, you didn’t,” Mother replied, snatching up a spatula as if it were a spear. “Follow me.”

And, of course, I did, trying to hear, between sniffles, the marching band in her mind.

With surgical skill, she slid the spatula between the floor and a layer of splattered chocolate and rescued the majority that had not actually contacted the floor onto a plate. “We’ll clean this up later,” she said, closing the basement door. I thought I heard snatches of the band as I trailed her back upstairs, but the glorious, perfect round pies were history, replaced with a chocolate mass, starred with Picassoesque bits of graham crust. In the kitchen, Mother sculpted the chocolate onto individual plates and smothered them with Cool Whip. With a smile, she handed me two to serve to the waiting guests and said, comfortingly, “Nobody will ever know.”

And they didn’t.

Mother even danced down grocery store aisles. Canned music was music, still. At an age where such behavior horrified, I lagged behind, lest someone connect me with that woman who randomly kicked a leg sideways and sang out loud as she pushed the cart. Though my feet dragged with a young girl’s reluctance to be singled out as different, my heart  glimpsed secrets:

• One could dare to be.
• A disaster is only one if you allow it.
• A wildflower has the potential for just as much beauty as a rose.

You just have to hear the music.

Jane Lobman Katz (1931 – 1986) – Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame


T.K. Thorne is a retired police captain (Birmingham, Alabama), director of City Action Partnership, and an award-winning author of fiction and non-fiction.


About T. K. Thorne

T.K. is a retired police captain who writes books, which, like her blog, roam wherever her interest and imagination take her.
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11 Responses to The Magic of Mother’s Music

  1. Mary Nickum says:

    What a lovely, touching piece. It’s beautiful and brought back memories of my mother. Thanks for that, you are like a lovely flower in a field of common weeds.

  2. khristi driver says:

    Truly beautiful, Teresa.

  3. Carrie says:

    Brought tears to my eyes dear cousin. I loved having your mother in my life. Thank you.

  4. tkthorne says:

    How sweet, Mary. Thank you. I am happy to have shared a piece of my mother and childhood and to have reminded you of yours.

  5. tkthorne says:

    You are going to be such a mother, Khristi! I know these things….

  6. Deb says:

    Kit, I just read this (after reading the puppy postscript)……how spot on was that!! I was so blessed to have Jane in my life too……and was probably at the table that Thanksgiving! She would be so proud to see you now, dancing to your own muse…..I’m sure she’s sharing your accomplishments with all the company of heaven. Love you always. Deb

  7. Cathy Kerrigan says:

    Beautiful, I understand the boinking thing. I have bruises from nowhere. My husband calls me Tonka sometimes, because he watches me bump into things and then just back up and keep going. Glad to know that someone could turn that into something so beautiful and sweet. Thanks for writing.

  8. tkthorne says:

    Thanks Cathy. Be careful! 🙂

  9. tkthorne says:

    For some reason I can’t see all of your post, but thanks for reading it. We have always shared love of our fur children.

  10. Loraine Simons says:

    I too was blessed to have had the joy of LOVING Jane in my life-She influenced me-for the better– more than anyone else in my life-
    I named my daughter Amy Jane–for her-I wanted to call her-JANE-but had to compromise with my husbad to instead-call her AMY JANE-At least I know Jane is part of her name-GOD BLESS HER FOREVER-
    I have read your tribute to her before-Still I weep that she was taken from us so early-I will ALWAYS miss her-And I am so grateful that I am in touch with you, Laura, and Danny now-HUGS

  11. T.K. Thorne says:

    Loraine, thank you for this precious note. We, too, are so glad you are back in our lives. I know that would have made Mom happy.

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