My father had a wonderful singing voice. I remember him either singing or whistling often as he worked at different tasks when he was home. He sang to us in the car when we travelled to visit our grandparents who lived hours away and it was at least as much a distraction as a movie is now. He sat on the side of my bed almost every night and sang to me to "tuck me in". Of course, he would sing the same songs over and over again and I loved every one of them. Even one that made me cry every time. I would request it, he would start to sing it and I would start to cry. Before long he refused to sing it. Every once in a while I would ask again and he would refuse. Occasionally I would beg, promising that this time I wouldn't cry and he would relent, start to sing, I would cry.... and so it went. He must have been puzzled - both as to why I cried and why I kept requesting him to sing that song. To be honest, I was too. I don't really know why it compelled me the way it did. Perhaps it was so far from my experience that I was just trying to comprehend how a parent could behave that way.
I hadn't thought of that song for years but for some strange reason I did think of it a couple of months ago. I wondered if it really was as sad a song as I remembered and decided to google it - just to see. And.... it is.
Mommy Please Stay Home With Me - Hank Locklin
A mother went out on a party she left at home her baby son
He cried and begged her not to leave him but she would not give up her fun
She kissed his cheek and tried to soothe him but would not heed his childish plea
She heard him call as she was leaving please mommy please stay home with me
The mother joined the merrymakers and soon was lost in trifling joy
The mellow tunes and flitting shadows made her forget her baby boy
She danced and laughed and did some drinking the world for her was full of glee
But now and then these words would haunt her please mommy please stay home with me
She left the party feeling dizzy the smell of drink was on her breath
She hurried home to find her baby in raging pain and nearly dead
So doctor came and looked on sadly the case was hopeless he could see
The baby dies these words repeating please mommy please stay home with me
The mother now her life would forfeit to hear her baby's voice again
She grieves to think she rudely left him to satisfy her wishes vain
Now mothers don't neglect your duty the story should a lesson be
Do not ignore your baby's pleading please mommy please stay home with me
[ From: http://www.metrolyrics.com/mommy-please-stay-home-with-me-lyrics-hank-locklin.html ]
(Really, who writes a song like that!!!? And to be fair, why on earth did my dad ever sing it to me? I guess it must have just been a catchy tune and he didn't think about it.)
Anyway, here I am now and even quickly reading the words, I still feel weepy. And I wonder if in a small way my attitudes and practices as a mother were influenced by this. I know that having had the wonderful blessing of being able to be with Merin - to have a close, warm relationship, to teach her and be taught, to help her and be helped, to love her and be loved, - to know her so well and have no regrets about that relationship, is a great comfort. Greater than I can express. Sorrow as I miss her. But not regret. I know there are almost certainly many mistakes and omissions I have made as a mother but I can say that I have tried in a conscious way to give whatever of myself was required and more. If I can come to the end of my life and not have regrets in regard to my love and expression of it, I think that will feel full.
And just to be clear - my dad was a wonderful role model of that to me. I knew that I was loved without reservation. I was his "pride and joy" (as I think all of us were).