Saturday, May 23, 2009

What a Wonderful World!

My greatest wonder in life has nothing to do with the mechanics of anything. That is Hub’s department.

What I find wondrous is nature, and life, hopes and dreams. But having lived in the same house with the same man for more than thirty years, beyond a new bend in Hub’s sense of humor, what new could I possibly find to wonder at in my home environment? The mechanics of material things change, which doesn’t impress me, but little else. Still, even at that, unexpected situations arise that tap into my emotions and leave me quite awe-stuck.

Take this morning, for instance.

Hub is in a funk and I am beginning to worry about it. He’s bored. He eats too much and sleeps too much. Seems restless and unable to focus on anything.

Added to that, the weather remains nasty, which doesn’t help. And so I am beginning to fear if the weather doesn’t turn, Hub may not turn either. Back to his normal happy and carefree self.

Still I do my best to try and cheer him, but all to no avail. So there remains little left for me to do except to remain quietly supportive and at the same time more attentive to Hub’s conversations in hopes of finding an opportunity to assist him, in some unexpected way, back to his normal good humor.

And so, for these reasons, I am immediately alert, when Hub says to me at the breakfast table this morning, “Do you know the words to this song?”

I perk up my ears and wait for him to hum a bit of the melody, but all I hear coming from his side of the table is a deep muffled rumble like a slipper tumbling in a clothes dryer. His lips are ever so slightly parted in a duplication of Mona-Lisa’s famous smile, and I can tell he is deeply concentrating while exhaling a soft sound, so I go to his side of the table and bend over and listen. An uncommon thing for me to do, because normally Hub talks and sings, so very loud.

As I bend near his face, I hear a rumbling hum that seems to be coming from inside one of the table legs rather than from him. I bend closer and peer into his eyes and see a look of such intense concentration. A look that leads me to think Hub may have quietly slipped out-of-body. It is a glazed look that tells me he has moved somewhere else—leaving me feeling quite alone. He is not immediately behind his eyes, as he should be. Normally I feel an intimate adjacency to the person behind the eyes, but when I look at him, it is like looking through 140X Binoculars across a great expanse. He seems so very far away.

But, despite that, if I am to render normality here, I must pay attention. I must listen and try to identify the song. And so I listen very carefully to muffled modulations of oblique sound that have spacing and rhythm that is vaguely familiar.

But the tune? There isn’t any. And that sets me wondering what is going on, because Hub, like most people, always attempts to jar my memory with bits of the melody when he wants to remember an old song.

This morning there is no tune. The sound is more like a liturgical chant. There is no melody. But that is not the full extent of the weirdness of the situation. What is even weirder is the sound I hear is, in no way, representative of Hub’s voice. Not his sad voice, his happy voice, his normal voice, or even his silly voice.

It is not Hub’s familiar voice I am hearing. It is another tone, another pitch, another pronunciation, another shade, another frequency. It is simply not Hub’s voice. But yet, there is something strangely familiar in this never-before-seen-or-heard rendition. The pulses of the sound are scattered but not random.

And now I begin to verge on a kind of panic with the dragging and quickening of bass-toned exhales and inhales, and again, I say, without melody. And furthermore, the sound is incredibly soft, because it is as if Hub is forcing from somewhere deep inside a sound outside of his own voice range.

I don’t know what is happening here but my inner gut tells me it must be way more serious than a high fever, a blood clot, or an aneurysm. And the eyes though still and unblinking, remain fixed on me in an imploring stare. Across the huge expanse I referred to earlier.

And then, by God, it suddenly hits me. I know the song! I know the song!

Not from the nature of it, but the mechanics of it. Hub was amazed I did it. But I was far more amazed at how ‘The Lord of the Mechanics of Everything’ (that would be Hub) packaged the clues to a musical piece into nothing more than the mechanics of the piece.

Now that I understand the virtual impossibility of what he was doing, of course his eyes veiled over with such intense concentration. It’s pretty close to miraculous when someone can deliver a memory of a song with little more than vibrations of E.S.P. accompanied by a rhythmic percussion of nothing more than the sound of a slipper tumbling about in a clothes dryer.

Now Hub can carry a tune. He knows if it is right or wrong. But as he told me later, he had completely forgotten the tune. He had forgotten the words as well. He had forgotten the name of the song, and he had forgotten the artist. But what he hadn’t forgotten was that the song was a happy song. That is the memory that led to the twisted Mona-Lisa-smile. And he hadn’t forgotten the timber of the singer’s voice or the rhythm of the song.

Now Hub is not an impersonator in any way, shape, or form. But the voice I heard, that was not Hub’s, but yet was vaguely familiar, was the deep voice, magical and dream-shaped, of Louis Armstrong.

And the song Hub needed to remember was “What a Wonderful World.”

Isn’t that totally delightful? When Hub wants that desperately, and needs that desperately to recall a song to sing this early in the morning, and that particularly happy song is the song he wants to sing, my heart is lifted and I know all is well. The weather has cleared despite the dreary skies outside the window, and I know Hub’s funk has flown.

Hub is out in his shop right now singing at the top of his lungs, in tune, and in his own voice with impeccable phrasing…

“I see fields of green, red roses too…”


Pauline said...

your telling of this was totally delightful! (and now I'm humming that song!0

Been out in my garden (minus the snow) and picked some radishes, weeded the peas and cut some asparagus. Snow on May 20! That should be outlawed... get on that, Roberta ;)

WheelDancer said...

Excellent story! It is an excellent song as well that you have planted in my mind that I now envision Hub, Pauline, myself and I suppose many others humming in the disconnected blogospere choir.

LimesNow said...

And I say to myself, "it's a wonderful world, oh . . . yeah . . .


Roberta S said...

Hi Pauline, thanks for the visit. Weather is improving which is good. I drool at the mention of fresh radishes. Won't be getting any of them for a time.

Keep humming, Pauline. It is indeed a lovely song. Everybit as delightful as a 'bouquet of small roses that survived the frost'. That, to me, was a very special delight in your list of delights. Another is a happy song.

Roberta S said...

Hi Wheeldancer. Glad you enjoyed the story and yes, together now, let's sing our boots off -- 'I see fields of green...'

Roberta S said...

Thank you, Jeanne. (while taking a bow). Much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

"What a wonderful world..." I can't carry a tune, always wished I could. Great story, Roberta.

Roberta S said...

Hi nora, how you sing is of little matter. No one is ejected from this choir, because we sing for joy, not for tune, or style, or competition.

So sing along, Nora, loud and particular loud if you want to be heard above Hub's voice.

anne partain said...

Well, you just gotta love Hub! He went into his funk and he brought himself right back out. Men, they are the same as us....but different. I love every one of them. I have a "Hub" and like you, I just love him and let him be him, and like yours, he constantly surprises and delights me.
"I see fields of green, red roses too.....
Thanks a bunch...a touching post!

Joy Des Jardins said...

Oh how I love that song....and how I love this story. Oh Yeah.

I actually needed that....Thank you Roberta....

Roberta S said...

Thank you, anne p. for visiting and thank you for that lovely commentary. I chuckle to myself when I think about the lovely post you wrote about 'listening to an inner voice'. Obviously Hub was listening to his inner voice very carefully this day (what little there was of it).

Roberta S said...

Hi Joy. I'm not always the most cheerful person in the world, but when Hub passes me a portion of good cheer and I manage to pass it along to a friend, I am cheeriest of all. Thank you for that comment.

joared said...

Such a well-written description that I could picture your Hub in my mind. Immediate alarm began to surface in my mind thinking "stroke ... call for emergency care, now!"

Am glad he had little more than a temporary funk since day after week after month after year coping with a perpetual "funky," clearly untreated depressed, spousal state can challenge the skills and well-being of even the most loving and dedicated caregiver.

What a wonderful life ... love the lyrics.

Roberta S said...

Hi joared, thank you for that comment. I guess I'm just restating what you already said when I remark that I realize that extended funks can root deeply in the psyche. So I am concerned when anyone shows signs of a funk infection (including myself).

I don't know who wrote the song, but it was always a lovely song, and for me, is now even more lovely.

Dick said...

What a great post, Roberta. Isn't it extraordinary how that song in that version transcends genre and taste? It's popped up in all sorts of movies, offered either sincerely or ironically, not least of which was 'Good Morning, Vietnam'. Fascinating, the portal that opens up from time to time between the sentimentality of popular culture and that which touches on our deepest feelings.

Roberta S said...

Hey Dick, thanks for the comment. Your sentence about 'popular culture' and 'our deepest feelings' fascinates me. When it comes to music I probably generalize far too much. When I was a very young child, I remember the radio playing soldier laments, for sweethearts, mothers, and home. In my youth, I remember songs that stirred the soul of romance with expressions of love and serious pining over separation..but seems...(to me) violence in real life increases while the lyrics to modern music revolve around carnal love and death and sex while watering down emotion enough to make all three cause no heartache or flutter in the chest.
I long for just a wee bit of sappy song to tap into my sentimentality. Haven't heard any for a long time except perhaps by Leonard Cohen.

joared said...

Must comment on your response to Dick -- I think your observation about much of popular music today is quite accurate, sadly.

Roberta S said...

Hi joared, I truly appreciate you taking the time to make that comment. It is comforting to know that there are a few that feel as I do -- and with your comment I can feel that you feel as I do at that deeper level that was/is stirred by some of the lyrics of music from the past.