When Minnie sat down and I began to adjust the microphone, she emphatically told me, “Just don’t make me sing.” At first I didn’t understand, but as Minnie and her daughter Nanette began their conversation, I soon learned why Minnie no longer sings. In public, at least.
Last week, Facilitator Anna Walters, Memory Loss Initiative Coordinator Perri Chinalai, and I packed up our rental car (very early in the morning!) and traveled to Nanuet, New York for a day of recording with the Alzheimer’s Association Hudson Valley/Rockland/Westchester, NY Chapter. StoryCorps was able to visit Nanuet through the Memory Loss Initiative, a special initiative to record the stories of people living with Alzheimer’s and other illnesses that cause short and long term memory loss.
Nanette asked her mother questions about her musical talent. Minnie’s proficiency playing accordion landed her a guest spot on the radio before the acclaimed singer Dinah Shore. However, when Nanette asked about Carla, Minnie’s granddaughter, that’s when Minnie perked up and shared her reasons for never singing again. Minnie remembered that she would take Carla shopping as often as possible. After one long shopping outing, Minnie was driving along, singing her favorite tunes for Carla’s entertainment. From the backseat of the car, Minnie heard, “Grammy! Grammy! Grammy!” Finally, becoming somewhat annoyed, Minnie pulled over and asked Carla what the matter was. “Grammy,” Carla said, “I love you, but don’t sing.” Minnie almost died of laughter and continues to tell the story of her granddaughter’s brutal honesty. Minnie may no longer sing, but she remembers a few great and funny stories.