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“That Was a Beautiful Music Moment”: Amy Grant Shares a Special Christmas Memory

“That Was a Beautiful Music Moment”: Amy Grant Shares a Special Christmas Memory
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December 21, 2023
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Amy Grant is a Grammy award-winning pop star, songwriter, television personality and philanthropist. She is the newest artist to join the Alzheimer’s Association’s Music Moments project with her song, “Trees We’ll Never See.” In this post, Grant shares how music kept her family connected throughout her parents’ journey with dementia.

Music is the best connector there is.

There are so many chapters in life, so many layers. There's a dynamic and an energy to each one. One chapter that is really precious is how caring for my parents, who both had forms of dementia, brought me and my sisters closer together. It was precious because of the time I got to spend with my siblings.

When my sisters and I would visit my parents, we would drag out the old blue hymnals and sing two or three-part harmonies with Mom and Dad. It didn't matter how scattered or confused they were, there's something about music that would just bring them back to the present.

My father loved music. He was always playing records. When he was younger, he was sometimes the song leader at his church. He could sing old hymns, and long after his verbal skills had come and gone, he could remember really complex melodies.

Music is the only gathering where everybody is on the same wavelength. To be able to sing with somebody, that's a shared experience. I'll never see life through the lens that was my father's, but I felt the connection and comfort of singing a song with him, even after his ability to have a conversation had stopped.

There are hidden gifts …

What I learned is that every day is a unique experience when faced with dementia. There is no roadmap or script for any of it. But, nobody has to face a hard thing alone. There is always community to be found. There are also hidden gifts. We had moments of clarity from my mom and dad. Out of the blue, they would say something that made sense, and those moments felt like something supernatural. We cherished them.

During Christmas of 2008, I had a really busy fall tour, and had already booked a bunch of things for 2009. But, something about that Christmas made me realize that Mom was failing. In 2009, I stopped all touring because of Mom’s health. When I was suddenly home full-time, I realized that the more dire case was my father.

It felt like we were in a room with no doors and no windows, and somebody turned the water on and it was up to our knees. Dad was losing his ability to use words. He just couldn’t get them out. I realized we have to have a conversation with him and get a plan in place while Dad was still cognizant. None of these conversations are easy. Even with close relationships, these are not conversations you're prepared to have.

We had lunch with my dad and a very trusted friend of his, Walt. At the end of the conversation, we told Dad we needed to talk about power of attorney. Dad looked at Walt, and said, “Is this a good thing? Is this right? Walt said, “Burton, you raised four girls for this moment — to let them care for you.”


The first Christmas without my mom…

In 2011, it was our first Christmas without Mom. We lost her in April that year. I really didn’t feel “in the holiday spirit.” But, it was Christmas Eve afternoon and I said to myself, “don’t overthink it, just do the next thing.” A mantra I say to myself frequently. My youngest daughter and I dolled up and went to pick up my dad.

My daughter asked, “What's the plan?” I said, “We're going to go visit each of my sisters.”

We stopped at my sister Cathy's house first, and we took a picture with Dad around the Christmas tree. After, Cathy asked if she could join us to visit our other two sisters.

We made our way to all three of my sisters’ homes. At each stop, another one of my sisters got in the car and joined us. By the end, it was the four girls and my dad.

We started driving to one of my childhood friend’s house, whose father was my dad's oldest friend. I called her and said, “We are headed to your house. Can we sing a Christmas song on your front porch?”

By now it's nighttime, and my friend was having Christmas dinner with her dad. So when we showed up at her house, my dad and his old friend were reunited. Her and I were sitting there, both crying, while these two old friends were able to share Christmas with each other and their kids. It was a beautiful music moment.

About: Born in Georgia, Amy Grant is the best-selling contemporary Christian singer of all-time. She currently resides in Nashville with her family. Hear her talk about how the power of music and the love of family guided her through her parents’ journeys with dementia



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