Monday, February 10, 2014

"Unforgettable" triggers...by Jim Terry

 It’s hard to image life without memories isn’t it?   ...Meaning, it always amazes me that no matter how many years go by that a certain smell, a taste, an image or a song can bring back such amazing memories, thoughts and emotions.

I have a great job that allows me to converse with many people over the year and it surprises me, at times, what memories are triggered with a television commercial they see or the music we have playing in the background during their appointment.

Just the other day, I had a patient in my chair that was in her late 70ties.  Not long after we started her procedure, “Unforgettable” by Nat King Cole came on the sound system we play in each operatory. She initially began to hum along with the music and then I noticed a tear that began to form and gently rolled down the side of her cheek.   I immediately stopped because in dentistry a tear is generally NEVER a good thing. As I handed her a tissue, I asked, “Are you okay?”   

She immediately replied, “YES.”

I then asked her if I had caused her any “discomfort” during the procedure and she then replied, “NO.”

As the conversation continued, I found out about a time in her life during the World War II era.  She explained that she remembered being about 10 or 11 years old at the time and remembers all too well the day that her family had received word that her older brother was killed in the war.  A Western Union telegram had arrived at their home and she continued by saying she remembers every sound, every smell and every word around her that day as her Mother read from that “darn telegram” announcing her brothers passing while “in the line of duty.”

After wiping a tear or two from her cheek, she put on the warmest smile and began to explain to me the rest of the story of why Unforgettable “triggered” this reaction.  …Being a music “lover” herself, she said that she and her Mother wanted to have a “song” to remember her brother by. They tried for years to dedicate and find that “perfect” song that they both agreed on.  One of the first attempts of a song suggestion came from her Mother. 

“How about ‘I love you’ by Bing Crosby” she asked? 

She replied, “Mom, I don’t like that song.  It’s not good enough for my brother.  Let’s try another.”

Don’t you know I love you” by the Clovers was suggested by her a couple of years later. And her Mother came back with a similar response and felt her song choice was not good enough for her son.

As the story goes, this back and forth process continued from 1942, the year of her brother’s passing, until “1951 or 1952.”  She and her Mother were cleaning the house one day while listening to the radio.  As the songs continued to play, she remembered hearing the familiar voice of Nat King Cole but had not heard this particular song entitled  …”Unforgettable.”  She continued her story by saying it was almost like a “bolt of lightning that hit her” as she screamed out to her Mother while the song was still playing…”THIS IS IT! The song that says how I truly feel about my brother.”

She recalls her mother “hurried” into the living room from the kitchen and as they both embraced each other her Mother replied, “Yes, this is it.” 

 As they stood there for several minutes with arms wrapped around each other and tears rolling down their cheeks, they realized they were at the end of a journey they set out to accomplish together. …The quest to find a simple song in remembrance of her brother.   

I often think of things in my life that have such a beautiful meaning as this but I think I will save my memories for another blog out of respect for my patient, her family and their memories which are truly wonderful. 

I must admit; however, that this song also has a special meaning and bears an “Unforgettable trigger” for me…I remember just a couple of weeks after my Mother started writing this blog that she posted a big “THANK YOU” to, YOU, the readers.  She was having a tough time at that point in her life after being laid off after 12 years of impeccable service at a newspaper.  You will never know how much joy and support you brought to her by simply reading, liking and commenting on what she wrote.  It literally put the “wind back in her sails.”

So in the words of my wonderful Mother, “I just wanted to take a moment and give a big "THANKS" to ALL of you who have shared, posted, read, commented and continue to support” us…”You all are ‘UNFORGETTABLE!’ Thanks so much!”