Pardon me just a moment. What's that sound I hear? Well, I do believe it's the Sound of Music. My wife, Viola, has a beautiful voice, and before Parkinson's came to call I could hear her singing and playing a CD or cassette almost every day.
She still sings around the house, but not in public. She used to sing solos in church, and I guess that's one of the things that I miss the most.
However, what I want to share with you today is not about my wife's singing, but rather “The Sound of Music.” This 1967 movie by Rodgers and Hammerstein is my all-time favorite. Later it was made for television, and I have watched it all the way through several times, which is rare for me.
This movie, set in Salzburg, Austria, during the early days of World War II, is about a young woman by the name of Maria who is studying to become a nun. Maria, played by Julie Andrews, is not sure that a nun's life is right for her and is sent to be the governess for seven children of a widower naval commander, Captain George Ritter von Trapp.
Before the movie ends, Maria and Captain von Trapp fall in love and are married. While fiercely loyal to his native Austria, when the Germans come to power the captain and his family are forced to leave their homeland, and eventually make their way to America.
One thing that has made this movie even more special for me was when we were on vacation several years ago in New England we visited the lodge they established, Trapp Family Lodge near Stowe, Vt. The Trapp Family first started welcoming guests to their 27-room lodge in 1950.
Thirty-three years later they increased the size to 93 rooms, and today the Austrian-style Main Lodge with an additional 23 new rooms and 100 guest houses are available on a time-share basis. The day we were there and strolling around the grounds, I walked in the front door of the Main Lodge, and there was no one around.
A table in the first room to the left was piled high with food, and it appeared they were going to have a banquet. I continued to walk around for several minutes, and still no one appeared. I finally left because I knew I had not been invited, without taking even so much as a grape.
Given this background, you can imagine how thrilled I was a few days ago when I got an e-mail telling me that Julie Andrews had made a special appearance at Manhattan's Radio City Music Hall to commemorate her 69th birthday, for the benefit of the AARP. When I checked it out, this e-mail turned out to be a hoax but still entertaining and worth reading.
This beautiful and talented lady and I are close to the same age, and obviously she has done a whole lot more with her years than I have with mine, but even in her later years, she is still very creative.
As the story goes, the day she appeared, one of the musical numbers she performed was “My Favorite Things” from the previously mentioned legendary movie “The Sound of Music.” However, someone had changed the lyrics, and what was produced was hysterical. As you read on, in the plot you will see that Julie Andrews has the ability to laugh at herself.
This is a wonderful quality to have, as this is one thing that has kept many older people from becoming bitter as they face the challenges that old age produces.
Here are the lyrics of the new version: “Maalox and nose drops and needles for knitting. Walkers and handrails and new dental fittings. Bundles of magazines tied up in string. These are a few of my favorite things. Cadillacs and cataracts, and hearing aids and glasses, Polident and Fixodent and false teeth in glasses, Pacemakers, golf carts and porches with swings, these are a few of my favorite things.
When the pipes leak, when the bones creak, when the knees go bad, I simply remember my favorite things, and I don't feel so bad.
Hot tea and crumpets and corn pads for bunions. No spicy hot food or food cooked with onions. Bathrobes and heating pads and hot meals they bring, these are a few of my favorite things.
Back pains, confused brains, no need for sinnin'. Thin bones and fractures and hair that is thinnin'. And we won't mention our short shrunken frames, when we remember our favorite things.
When the joints ache, when the hips break, the eyes grow dim. Then I remember the great life I've had, and then I don't feel so bad.”
After this performance, Ms. Andrews was reported to have received a standing ovation that lasted more than four minutes and repeated encores. Wish this story was true and I could have been there in person and could have heard her performance. What a blessing this lady has been for millions of people all across the world.
As I read these lyrics over a number of times, a lot of things came to mind, but there is one thing for sure: old age is not for sissies. Here is a special tribute to those of you who are hanging in there. Regardless of your age, I hope you have a great day.