It’s been a tough week.
First off, the holidays over the past twenty-plus years have created a lot of angst for me. I’ve lost a lot of people, and as the years grow on, I keep losing more and more.
And then, to make holiday matters more dire, there was the loss last week of a dear friend who fought a dignified and courageous fight against cancer to the bitter end — mostly on his own.
Much like my grandmother, Mammy, who silently and stoically fought what she called “The Cancer.”
The one constant when times get tough is the memory of my grandmother. And even though times were tough back then as well, we always had each other until “the cancer” took her away from me way too soon.
So, around this time of year, I often find myself reaching out to her, asking her for advice, courage, a sign — anything.
Can you hear me, Mammy?
And yesterday, even though I was suffering, for whatever reason, I didn’t reach out to her.
But apparently, she wasn’t having that because as soon as I got into the car and turned on the radio, there it was:
Liberace was on some random radio station playing “The Way We Were.”
My grandmother adored everything about Liberace.
Me? Not so much.
But back in the late 50s and early 60s, we watched his television shows together all the time.
And Liberace began and ended each show by singing “I’ll Be Seeing You,” which became his theme song.
Liberace’s song choice was the perfect ending and beginning to every one of his shows, capturing the hearts of so many, including Mammy, reminding his viewers of love, hope, and, ultimately, the pain of separation.
I was never a fan of Liberace. But I endured hours and hours of his flamboyance because it gave Mammy such joy, which she usually didn’t have much of.
And his “Specials” were the Liberace highlight of her year. Urgh. It seemed like every month Liberace had another special — Valentine’s, Easter, Mother’s Day, Christmas, Las Vegas, Hawaii, London…
You name any Liberace show; I probably watched it with Mammy.
Perhaps you could say that tuning into Liberace on the radio yesterday was a mere coincidence.
But I don’t think so.
I turned up the radio super loud and belted out the words as Liberace played the piano:
♪ ♪ ♪ Memories
Of the way we were ♪ ♪ ♪
♪ ♪ ♪ So it’s the laughterWe will remember Whenever we remember The way we were ♪ ♪ ♪
Thank you, Mammy. And rest assured, I’ll be seeing you.