My mom died Monday evening on my birthday. I’m really cool with it, kind of a circle of life thing without the snowstorm my parents drove through to get to the hospital for my birth. Today, I would like to publicly acknowledge that my love of music was encouraged by Mom.
Mom came of age in the Fifties, but since she was from a small town south of Indianapolis, she really never heard of Elvis Presley or many of the other gods of rock & roll from the time period. She had around 100 singles by the likes of Chuck Berry, Little Richard, but mostly Pat Boone. I guess Mom just loved those watered-down versions of the great “race” records of the time.
Growing up, I remember Mom watching many rock & roll shows in the afternoons, such as ‘American Bandstand’ and the other dance shows. She claims that I loved to dance to Paul Revere & the Raiders whenever they were on TV. She also claims that we watched the Beatles on the ‘Ed Sullivan Show,’ but I was only a year-old at the time.
Mom was the person who took me to the local K-Mart to buy my first “real” rock album, Alice Cooper’s Billion Dollar Babies. She never tried to censor my tastes in music, except for the time I was playing “Bobby Brown” by Frank Zappa the summer after my freshman year in college. She calmly knocked on my door, walked in, and said that if I ever played that song in her home again that I could pack up and leave or she would break the record over my head. I preferred the former at the time, but was really afraid she do the latter. Other than that, she never cared whether I was playing the Sex Pistols, Ted Nugent, Journey or The Clash, she actually loved it.
The one artist that she really enjoyed was Queen. Since she was an art teacher for 35 years, the whole Queen image was amusing to her. Then, when she heard “Bohemian Rhapsody,” she became a quiet fan while I was hanging the band’s posters in my room and cranking up every album they released. From 1975 to 1984, Queen was on of my musical obsessions and Mom joined in. While I was living at home, I got the privilege of seeing Queen twice in concert. Fortunately, Mom did not join me, but something said that she wanted to go see Freddie, whom she loved.
You know, Mom would have loved the new Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody. Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s took away her memories a couple of years ago, so she did not remember the band when I mentioned that my whole family went to see that movie. For my birthday, my wife and I purchase the Blu-Ray version and were about half-way through the movie when the call came from the nursing home that Mom had passed. We stopped the movie and rushed to the nursing home. There, we were met by my stepdad and my younger son and his wife as we mourned. After a couple hours of laughing and crying, we left.
In a daze, I put the movie back on, turned to my wife and said, “Mom would have loved this movie.” All she said was, “I know.”