Muscle Memory

Growing up in a Scottish-German household, I was often accused of being “overly theatrical.” Overt displays of emotion were definitely not encouraged.

But it turns out this is very helpful in communicating with Mom. Her hearing is getting worse by the day and her comprehension is on the decline as well. So when Mom doesn’t understand a word or concept, I act it out: big facial expressions, expansive gestures, distinctive voices.

These get through the fog and stay. These she remembers.

When we play Scrabble she will ask, “Is ‘fee’ a word?” Together we recite, “Fee Fie Fo Fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman. Be he alive or be he dead, I’ll grind his bones to make my bread.” At the word grind, we both grit our teeth and say it with gusto.

We sing “Wash that Man Right of Out my Hair” from “South Pacific” and at the word “out” she yells the word and pumps her fist.

“Pop Goes the Weasel” is a huge favorite, always with an explosive Pop! Again with a big fist bump.
On the piano she plays from memory her own distinct medley of “Polly Waddle Doodle” and “Silent Night.” Attached here



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