Fourteen year old child protégé Jackie Evancho and Cheyenne Jackson are singing “Say Something” on PBS, a taping of the concert “Awakening” at Longwood Gardens.
Say something, I’m giving up on you
I’ll be the one, if you want me to
Anywhere, I would’ve followed you
Say something, I’m giving up on you
Now she’s singing “Open Fields of Grace,” the voice of an angel. The music transports me. Transported is where I want to stay.
Tired of the usual, the mundane. Take me to that fantasy garden on stage where she sings “Take Me There.” That’s where I want to be.
I just returned from a visit with mom, cut short by her unkindness. I will no longer stay when she is abusive and unkind.
The visit started out okay. We drank chai tea and ate Choco Leibniz cookies, her favorites. We took a spin around the floor.
Gina was shrieking in the dining room, “Leave her alone! Get out of here.”
James, one of the nurses, said, “She does this morning, noon and night. Our hands are tied,” and he motioned with his hands.
“I know, nothing you can do,” I said, as Mom and I wheeled by.
Ronald wheeled by, eating a chocolate frosted donut with sprinkles. She said, “I don’t like him. He’s an old fart.”
As I listen to Jackie Evancho, I think of how Mom and I used to sing together. She had the voice of an angel. Where did that Mom go? I miss her.
“Do you want to go to the concert upstairs?” I asked.
“Not really,” she said. Why didn’t I listen?
“Come on, Mom. We’ll only stay a little while.”
“Whatever you say,” she said.
Jackie is singing Bono’s “With or Without You,” the most heartfelt version I’ve ever heard. She smiles after each song, and says, “Thank you.”
She’s being interviewed and asked what she thinks her purpose is, and she says, with all the bad things happening in the world, she thinks it’s to make people happy and give them a release. She’s so unaffected, respectful and humble. How refreshing.
Mom and I arrive at the concert in the Music Cares Salon. “Do you want to go in?” I say.
“No,” she says, a scowl in her voice. “I want to watch ER.”
“Okay,” and we head back upstairs and return to her room.
Raymond enters her room. “I can’t make it in,” he says.
Mom is blocking him with her wheelchair. “Don’t let him in, he’s been bad.”
“Okay. Raymond, do you want a cookie?” I say.
“Yes,” he says, and I hand him one. He nibbles the chocolate off the edges of the cookie greedily.
“He’s been bad. He soiled himself and smeared it all over someone else’s room,” Mom said.
Jackie is singing Ave Maria. I’m tearing up.
“I don’t want him in here.” She turns around and sees him.
“Raymond, she wants you to go out. I’m sorry,” I say to him.
He shuffles to the door, confused, cookie in hand.
I feel bad for him. Mom used to say how much she liked him.
“I’m all alone,” Mom says. “Nobody cares about me.”
“I’m here, Mom.”
“You’re never here.”
“I can only come on the weekend. I have a full-time job.”
“Why do you have to work full-time? I give you money from my social security check and food stamps.” She is getting angry.
“No, you don’t.”
“Yes, I do. I give you money every month.”
“No you don’t.” I have forgotten the Alzheimer’s rule: always say “yes, and,” as I learned in my improv training. I’m angry now.
“You’re all alone, you don’t need that money.”
“Whatever you say, Mom.”
“You have no idea what it’s like.” She is glaring at me.
“Okay, Mom. You obviously don’t want me here.” I pack up my stuff.
“Go ahead. You don’t want to be here anyway.”
“Whatever you say, Mom,” I say, as I head to the door. She doesn’t turn to look at me.
I tell James, “She’s being a real bitch, so I’m leaving.”
He nods and says, “Your mom’s been very combative in the morning. She doesn’t want to get dressed or out of bed. She fights and curses at the aides.”
“What can I do?”
“The doctor’s thinking of giving her something to calm her down in the morning.”
“Okay, let me know what I can do.”
“Have a good night,” I say.
“You too,” he says, smiling kindly.
Jackie twirls in her gorgeous white gown with pink vines climbing up and down it, raising her arms, bowing graciously as the audience applauds. Big smile on her sweet, bright face.