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The Last Duet


I guess the thing you need to know for this particular event to make sense, is in that long ago when the doctors gave my mother three months to live, two things happened simultaneously; she made up her mind to make them out to be 'liars', and she became very obsessed with 'her songs'. Referring to them as 'her songs' did not mean she wrote them, or had any legal claim, they were just songs you never heard anyone else sing anymore since many pre-dated radio even. Some were jaunty little ditties, others were ballads, and some were plain silly but fun to sing, and some almost operatic. Most were in English, but a few were Gaelic. As she grew weaker, she became convinced that with her passing, they (the songs) would die too, as no one would remember them, even though us kids had heard them our entire lives.

I'm one of eight kids, why she decided I was the one that had to learn them all, is beyond me. The others were quite musical, as were our parents. They all had that gift that brings life into music so that it transcends being just notes and rhythm. My three sisters were all sopranos, like my mother, and three of the boys tenors. My oldest brother had real range though - he could either hit notes that belonged in the basement, or soar as high as any soprano. Me? Well, I was at best a low alto, who paled so much by comparison I may as well have sung in the key of Z.

Still, it was me Mom wanted to teach them to, and if that's what she wanted that's what was going to happen, and so I sung. On days Mom felt up to it we had duets, and if it was a really good day, she'd accompany us on the piano. On bad days, when there was just too much pain, she'd have me sit by her bed and sing, telling me when I missed a note, or didn't get a word exactly right. It was all so very important to her, which made it important to me.

My mother made it past the three months, and although she never got 'better', she simply refused to let go just yet - or to let me stop singing. Even after I left home at 16, and would manage to call her from a payphone, she'd ask me to sing her this song or that. Funny thing about that - there I'd be standing there using a wall mounted payphone (one without a booth) singing to her, usually with tears creeping down my cheeks, and almost without fail someone would 'tip' me. Never a lot, but a coin or two that would let me talk a few minutes more. Poor Mama in those pre-caller ID days had no clue her little girl was living on the streets, she thought I was living with a friend. A lie spun by my father that I allowed to stand. Sometimes lies need to be. But enough on that.

Mama passed in 1986, by then I was married with a son and another baby on the way. I wasn't even showing yet. I had managed to forge an uneasy alliance with my father over the decades, just so I could see my Mom in the last years of her life, and when ever we would visit, that woman would have me sing a song or two, her pick. I always felt a bit like I was taking a pop quiz! But no one was more shocked than I when at her funeral my dad asked me to sing for her 'one last time', as he always referred to my attempts as 'necessary noise that made my Mother happy'.

I sang Maidin I Mbeara (Oh Danny Boy in Gaelic), the way she had taught me to, not out of fear that it would be forgotten, but because it was my father's favorite song, and when they were courting, she had learned the Irish words as a surprise for him. (He only sang it in English - unable to roll his Rs or affect a brogue.) But, as her illness took hold, she could no longer sustain the notes, and so it had been a very long time since it had been heard in the family. She had thought that perhaps, after she had gone, it might be a reminder for my father that he had and always would be loved by her, if I would just sing it once in awhile when around him. When he asked, I thought I heard my Mom tell me to sing that song, I'd almost swear I did. Perhaps a trick of the wind, or my emotions playing up, accented by the others' grief. I began to sing, and I closed my eyes, as everyone began to stare at me. I could hear my Mother's high, clear soprano, as it was before the illness, encouraging my voice to soar with hers, rounding out the notes I could never quite reach before. When I finished, those who were staring before, were murmuring, whispering to each other, "Did you see that?" or "My God she sounded like her Mother!" My father just would not stop staring at me or in my direction.

At the reception I finally worked up my nerve and asked my oldest sisters (the twins), "See what?"

I've no explanation for their answer, but they swore they saw Mama standing next to me, singing right along.

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The following comments are submitted by users of this site and are not official positions by Please read our guidelines and the previous posts before posting. The author, valkricry, has the following expectation about your feedback: I will read the comments and participate in the discussion.

L_Melb (202 posts)
9 months ago (2017-04-11)
You really have such a great way with words and reading accounts of what you've experienced always prove to be a joy.
Having recently been to a funeral, I have no idea how you managed that song!
Thanks, beautiful:)
valkricry (39 stories) (2786 posts) mod
10 months ago (2017-04-03)
lady_glow, how did I miss you? πŸ˜• Thank you for reading and commenting.
Toosexysof, and Punkysmama, thank you for the kind words.
Temilicious, ummm... Maybe I should have issued a tissue warning?

Shelby,I'm really no great singer. If I did that, poor Tweed's curiosity would probably make her give a listen, and it might make her ears bleed! πŸ˜† Wouldn't want that! Usually I stick to making Foleys (sound effects) /voices to use in my websites. I do have one of me singing (as a ghost) An Coineachan (Fairy Lullaby), so it's me but not me. Lol clear as mud, right?
PunkysMama (4 stories) (62 posts)
10 months ago (2017-04-03)
Hello Valkricry,

Your story gave me goosebumps! Thank you for sharing it! ❀
Temilicious (7 stories) (77 posts)
10 months ago (2017-04-03)
Oh my word, first Tweed's post and now yours. I can't stop crying. I felt your pain when you were singing to your mom over the phone, and I felt the love that went into singing the Gaelic song at the funeral.

You are so blessed to have had that last duet with your mother.

Thank You
shelbyloree (5 stories) (285 posts)
10 months ago (2017-04-02)
Great experience! Oh, now you can get on the computer and record every song she taught you so we can all hear them! ❀️
toosexysof (4 stories) (18 posts)
10 months ago (2017-04-01)
Oh, Val, your story brought tears in my eyes... I remember the last moments I had with my Mom.
valkricry (39 stories) (2786 posts) mod
10 months ago (2017-03-30)
I'm sorry you lost your mom at such a young age. Perhaps she is there, watching over you, but you just don't know it. You could try asking for a sign. Or perhaps you have been receiving them, but don't recognize it. Is there anything that says 'Mom' to you, when ever you chance across it? Triggers some memory or a fleeting thought of her?
For Fergie (a poster on here) it's tiny white feathers, she finds in the oddest places. That tells her her daughter has been around.
For my niece butterflies showing up at odd moments are her dad. Once at a very difficult time, she found a butterfly necklace in her back yard. She asked but no one had ever seen it before. She thinks her dad left it. Another time an entire sheet of butterfly stickers showed up in her house. Again no one claimed it.
So leave yourself open to the possibilities. You might be surprised.
AzraelX (7 stories) (112 posts)
10 months ago (2017-03-30)
I lost my mom when I was 13 year old. I now wish that she could come to me the same way valkricry's mom did.

I missed my mom at all the important moments in my life... 😒
lady-glow (9 stories) (1703 posts)
10 months ago (2017-03-28)
Valkricry: this is such a touching and lovely story!
Thanks for sharing.
valkricry (39 stories) (2786 posts) mod
10 months ago (2017-03-27)
BGP, thanks for reading and commenting. I think there are far more 'like' us, than we know. But, at least we were blessed to have loving mothers. It wrenches my heart to think some don't even get that.
I do have a wee side story for you about my mom and dad. There's no ghost involved, but it was definitely strange.
Once my parents had become engaged, my father decided he had to try his hand in Chicago to try and find work that paid a living wage for himself and a ready made family. So he left them in Kentucky with a promise to send for them, and walked/hitchhiked to the big city.
After a couple of months my mother grew anxious, as my father had still not sent for them. She bought a bus ticket, and packed herself and the twins off to Chicago. Arriving, she was staggered by the enormity of the city. How on earth would she ever find my dad in this maze? The twins were hungry so she took the last of her money and bought some cold cuts and bread, and a small container of milk. Across the street was a large beautiful park (Lincoln Park which is enormous) so she and the girls decided to picnic there, while she figured out how to find my dad. A shadow fell across them, and a familiar voice asked, if she could spare a sandwich. She looked up to see my Dad! That morning, my dad had an overwhelming urge to go to Lincoln Park, he did not know my mom was coming, nor why he felt he had to walk the direction he did. Now, you tell me, what are the odds?
Revajane (1 stories) (71 posts)
10 months ago (2017-03-27)
Thanks Valkricry, I'll try to listen to it tomorrow as I can't get the link on my phone and only have access to good internet while at work but can't have boss in office. LOL
I still can't believe I spelled IRISH wrong. Typing too fast and no proofreading.

Really he won't mind.
babygoatpuller (4 stories) (390 posts)
10 months ago (2017-03-27)
Val- It's so hard to put into words how touching this was to read. I too have read all of your accounts and with this one, realize how much we have in common.

Loving, kind mom whom I was convinced "loved me the most", mean hateful dad who targeted me and lots of siblings. My mom was Irish and had a beautiful voice also.

I don't think it's possible to have honored her in a more loving way than you did. Going right to favs!
❀ ❀ ❀
valkricry (39 stories) (2786 posts) mod
10 months ago (2017-03-27)
I went on a search for you. This is not the best quality of sound, but it is the only fully Gaelic version I found:

Revajane (1 stories) (71 posts)
10 months ago (2017-03-27)
That is a wonderful tribute to your mom and I love the way she was able to share her last duet with you. ❀

This one is going into my favorites. I'd love to hear Old Danny boy in Gaelic. I've only heard it in English but I've always been drawn to the Iris side of our family.
valkricry (39 stories) (2786 posts) mod
10 months ago (2017-03-27)
Sorry almost missed you there. So you've read all my stories? That's a compliment! 😳
The twin's have their own fair amount of stories they could tell. Since they know I won't laugh or ridicule, I get told them, so I wasn't too surprised that they'd tell me they saw Mama singing with me. It only confirmed for me it was her I heard.
valkricry (39 stories) (2786 posts) mod
10 months ago (2017-03-27)
Go raibh mΓ­le maith agat! (literally 'That you may have a thousand good things', used for 'Many thanks!)
valkricry (39 stories) (2786 posts) mod
10 months ago (2017-03-27)
How sweet of you to say that. Thank you.

Thank you. She always told me, that after she had gone, if I felt a pat on my shoulder and no one was around, not to be afraid. It was just her stopping to say hi. I get that once in a while. Or one of her songs, will just pop into my head. I usually can't resist singing along to it. Lol Usually gets me some odd looks at work, although they generally ask me to continue. πŸ€” Makes me wonder if they're all a bit tone deaf, even though my daughter says I have a good lullaby voice.
KikiGirl (8 stories) (207 posts)
10 months ago (2017-03-26)
valkricry, thank-you for sharing your memories with us. I loved this story because it illuminated the happy and somewhat tranquil times in your life. I must say, I was not expecting your two older sisters to give you such a surprising answer as to their concern and inquisitive demeanor while watching you sing.

This is a beautiful story.
rookdygin (24 stories) (4384 posts)
10 months ago (2017-03-26)
(With a tip O' the hat and a wink of the eye)


Tiota priornhch. πŸ˜‰ (Instant Fav...)

Thanks for sharing.


Melda (9 stories) (798 posts)
10 months ago (2017-03-26)
Val - Your beautiful story brought tears to my eyes but your comment had them running down my cheeks 😊

Special memories to treasure. So why would she not be singing along with her best friend at her own funeral? I can't think of a better send-off, her to better times, pain and suffering gone, and you to fulfill the legacy she left you. ❀ ❀

Regards, Melda
roylynx (24 stories) (617 posts)
10 months ago (2017-03-26)
Valkricry; your stories are all so beautiful! I have feeling that you are a gifted person, lucky enough to experience all these beautiful encounters.

This particular story I love it especially because it kind of reminds me of my grandmother, last conversation she had with my father was very very sad but it taught me so many things... Thanks for sharing the warmth

Love from SΓ£o Paulo
valkricry (39 stories) (2786 posts) mod
10 months ago (2017-03-26)
Oh, guys, thank you all for commenting. I'm sitting here wrapped in warm memories of my Mom and that long ago time. Recalling of life with her prior to the illness; when she would try and teach us the classic ballet steps and movements, and would wake us by playing Reveille on the piano. The sight of her standing in the kitchen making her homemade bread, with the extra loaf we'd eat so fresh from the oven that it wouldn't cut right but rather pieces torn from it - lathered in her homemade butter and preserves. Recalling small bits of 'trivial' history she instilled in us, like ALL the verses to Jack and Jill the nursery rhyme, or how Starved Rock got its name.
Or that one special time, when she confined in me that I was not just her daughter, but her best and only real friend.
Thank you all, for allowing me to remember. Back in that long ago of hurt and anguish, there was also love.
valkricry (39 stories) (2786 posts) mod
10 months ago (2017-03-26)
It is a very touching song, isn't it? I can never make it through (in English or Gaelic) without tears making their way down my cheeks.
It's my father's side that has the Irish. Chicago is a city of many 'pockets' (areas that folks of a certain nationality or faith tend to live), and at one time we lived in an Irish pocket. It was there my mother learned the Gaelic tunes and to jig.
Not being able to fool your mom... Not sure that's strictly Irish, seems like a 'Mom' thing! πŸ˜†
Meghana23 (2 stories) (22 posts)
10 months ago (2017-03-26)
Wow... Great story.

I loved it. Its amazing.

Thanks for sharing.
valkricry (39 stories) (2786 posts) mod
10 months ago (2017-03-26)
Manafon, Thank you for the lovely compliment. In many ways, I guess you could call my account here at YGS my paranormal memoir. 😊
BeagleMom (3 stories) (78 posts)
10 months ago (2017-03-25)

What a beautiful and sentimental tale of a loving relationship between a Mother and Daughter. It is my belief that your mother was with you in that very moment at her service. A Mothers love is a powerful and binding love that can transcend even death.

I put your story right into my favorites!


Mother of Beagles
OCGirl (4 stories) (58 posts)
10 months ago (2017-03-25)
What a beautiful & sweet story. Thanks for sharing. I really enjoyed it
Tweed (23 stories) (2070 posts)
10 months ago (2017-03-25)
Val, I don't really have much to say that hasn't already been said. I think this makes your experience with Hank all the more poignant. ❀
Thanks for sharing and bless you.
Fergie (38 stories) (1130 posts)
10 months ago (2017-03-25)
Val, another delightful, but heart-wrenching submission from you. 😁

You know that your mother was there, singing along with you, don't you? Your sisters saw it, even if your eyes were closed and you missed it. You must have had a very special place in her heart.

I never realised that you had Irish blood in you, or maybe I have just forgotten. Small wonder that you are fey. πŸ˜‰

Thank you for submitting another account from you eventful life. You are a strong woman and I have much admiration and respect for you my friend. ❀
Melda (9 stories) (798 posts)
10 months ago (2017-03-24)
Valkricry - What a heart warming, indescribably beautiful story. I don't doubt for a minute that your mother had a special connection with you, despite your being one of eight children. Not that she loved you more but just that connection.

I read your story of ending up on the street, an account which really moved me. I wasn't a member when I read your accounts but nevertheless read them all.

However I believe that your father must have loved your mother very much to ask you to sing to her one last time. Perhaps he was even regretting the heartache he caused you but too stubborn to admit it.

Although you play it down Val, I think you must have a beautiful voice. It doesn't have to be soprano to be beautiful!

There probably was not a dry eye at that funeral. I would probably have used up a bunch of tissues if I had been there. I cry at good events and at sad ones.

You truly are one amazing woman.

Regards, Melda

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