As I visit with my sister Tracey, today brings the first birthday she’s celebrated since the two loved ones pictured with her in this photo died last summer.
The following came when she explored an exercise called “Alchemy”, in which you prepare (no editing) a short spontaneous piece reflecting voice as it relates to a game, avocation, or strong “fascinating/passionate” experience.
Last June, her husband Bob recorded a music CD, including piano compositions of his own, with the help of musician friends. So many of us are so thankful now that he did.
The day of the recording, a nearby military installation made noise of its own. Tracey’s “BC” reference refers to their life before the clinical trial in which he participated as someone with heart disease. It was a challenge this well-loved doctor had lived with since his early 20s. I believe that “Biscottie”, as in life, needs neither introduction nor explanation.
Tracey’s alchemy of outer and inner senses:
“With the help of one magical disc and an old sweater, I become a powerful time-traveler. I can close my eyes and ‘beam’ back to BC – before clinical trial. Just a flick of the CD buttons and a whiff of the sweater transport me to June last year, when Fort Indiantown Gap’s cannon fire shook the house, while my husband and his production crew prepare to record.
‘Damned inconvenient day to make a recording!’ I shout, sure that the pre-July 4 BOOMS will ruin things. I am in the adjacent kitchen making Tuscan bread, salt-free as it was when ancient Tuscans protested the prohibitive tax on salt. My Union Jack apron covers leggings and the T-shirt reading, ‘Of COURSE they’re fake; the real ones tried to KILL me.’ The sunsual smell of rising bread mingles with his own unique scent, Pear’s soap and clean cotton and polished leather.
He gives the piano an opening riff, and then segues into ‘Christmas Time Is Here,’ since this CD being recorded will substitute for a holiday greeting. I pad quietly across the dining room carpet, my bare feet showing off with orange toenails, and sit on the steps into the sunken living room. Brindly Biscottie, known to her friends as BiBi, climbs into my lap, her velvety paws nestled on my knee. I pull her pointy ears.
The music changes to a haunting number he wrote for me, ‘Mary T,’ then moves joyously into ‘I Hear A Rhapsody,’ then closes with ‘Lucky To Be Me’.
Then it ends.
Like Cinderella at midnight, my fantasy also ends: I sit alone on the step, no music, no Biscottie, not even any heady rising bread. Only the fading scent on his old sweater remains.
He knew. He made me promise to complete the CD project – he chose the photos (his arm around my coral shirt matching Biscottie’s collar, the photographer capturing her attention with a duck call), wrote the quirky liner notes (‘Mary T. was written after consultation with Leif Ericson and/or a local cabbie’) and selected the music. But mostly he knew that music, his first gift to me and now his Forever Gift, would give me these much-needed super powers, maybe bring back my wisecracking self.
I push ‘play’ again.”
~ Tracey Edgerly Meloni