When I was the age my kids are now my parents would put me and my twin brother in a car and drive us from our home in Connecticut down to Pompano Beach, FL to visit my grandmothers. This is not a trip for the faint of heart; 2 days in a car without the distractions of 21st century life; iPhones, ipads, in car DVD players, etc. What we did have, though, in our “vomit comet” was a kick ass cassette tape player. Now the name vomit comet is a story for another post – what I will focus on here is the bitchin sound system in the dashboard.

Okay, to be honest, it was far from bitchin. Music, however, is a big part of my mother’s life and she had complete control of the sound system in our Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera. My mom and dad were fond of Big Band music from the 40s, classical music, and – for comic relief – their favorite comedian Hal Roach (write it down, it’s a good one). My mother also loved singer/songwriter Anne Murray.

The other day I was listening to a country station on the radio and the DJ decided to play Anne Murray’s Snowbird as a nod to the brutal winter we have been having in the northeast. This song made me feel quite nostalgic for those road trips of thirty years ago and I decided to download a few Anne Murray songs. One song that always strikes a chord with me is You Needed Me.  Here are the opening lyrics:

I cried a tear
You wiped it dry
I was confused
You cleared my mind

I can’t help but think of my mother when I hear these words. I was a very sensitive child (and am a very sensitive man) and can’t imagine how many times my mother wiped tears from my eyes (even when she likely wanted to scream ‘suck it up Michael.’). I cried over everything; striking out, falling off my roller skates, the end of ET – the list could go on and on. Mom was always there to comfort me – she had that special mom gene that simply instilled security when I was upset.

Another verse goes:

You gave me strength
To stand alone again
To face the world
Out on my own again

Oh the broken hearts I had in my teenage years! I was always falling in love and having my heart broken and I constantly thought my world was coming to an end. My mother was always there to encourage me and let me know that “there are more fish in the sea.” Going back even earlier than my teenage years, as a young kid I was picked on quite a bit and my mother was always there to encourage me by saying things such as, “Don’t think twice about what they say about you Michael, people like you will run the country some day.” To this day I am not quite sure that such encouragement was actually a compliment but I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt.

And another verse goes:

You held my hand
When it was cold
When I was lost
You took me home

This one could go in a few different directions. I grew up in Florida during the same time that Adam Walsh went missing and many of us remember what happened to him. I remember being a little boy and going to the store with my mom (Publix). She would always make a stop at the bakery to buy my twin brother Jimmy and me M&M cookies as a treat for behaving while going shopping with her (it was a preemptive strike – the cookie came at the beginning of he trip). I remember turning around one day while at the bakery and not seeing her. Panic set in and I walked across every aisle and couldn’t find her. A manager caught me crying in an aisle and offered to page my mother for me. I was a wreck, but mom took my hand and reassured me that everything was all right because, well, that’s what moms do! She held my hand and, like she would do in my later teen years, reassure me that all was going to be well.

After hearing Snowbird the other day, I went on to Amazon and sent a copy of Anne Murray’s greatest hits to my mother as a surprise gift. I thought it highly doubtful that she had her cassette tape version readily available and, come to think of it, even if she did I knew that her new car didn’t have a tape player in it. She called me today from the car to let me know that she appreciated the gift and was listening to the CD while driving with my father to visit some friends in Davie, FL. It was a small gesture simply to let mom know how much I still need her!