As I was driving to pick up my kids from school last week, I flipped through the Sirius XM channels, straying from my presets in hopes of finding Classic College Radio.
As I was speeding through the genres I never tune into, I got to the On Broadway channel and caught the end of Bernadette Peters singing "Time Heals Everything," from the musical Mack and Mabel.
"Tuesday, Thursday. April, August. Next year, some year, time heals everything …"
And I started crying. Not tearing up, mind you. Full blast bawling.
I may have been winding along Kelly Drive, but in my mind I was sitting at my Nana Pearl's kitchen table with my sister, doing Shrinky Dinks or sculpting Play-Doh, listening to her sing those words while she stuffed a lemon and herbs into her roasting chicken for Shabbat dinner. I hadn't heard that song since I was a girl, but I remembered every word.
Nana loved Broadway shows and Stephen Sondheim. She was forever playing soundtracks and standards. Her house was a place of warmth and safety, and the music she played became interwoven with those feelings. On the High Holidays, she listened to a broadcast of services, singing along just as she did to Sweeney Todd and Sunday in the Park With George.
Experiences at my father's house are set to a Motown and R&B soundtrack, while my mother's home resounded with The Beatles, Steely Dan and Elton John. Certain songs transport me to summers, rooms, vacations, houses or my Nana's kitchen, a place I miss dearly.
In our home, music is on most of the time and during every meal, especially Shabbat. We don't play showtunes, but listen to a wide variety of other genres. My older son loves U2, Smashing Pumpkins, Vampire Weekend and The National. My younger son will sing anything, and he always cracks me up in the car when he belts out the lyrics, often incorrectly (Example: "I'll be alive in a hopeless way!" instead of "We found love in a hopeless place," when singing the chorus from Rihanna's pop song.) I'm sure certain songs have already become linked to our sons' memories — to summers, to rooms, to vacations, to houses and to our kitchen on Shabbat, a place I hope is as precious to them as my Nana's was to me.