Saturday, May 10, 2014

When Mummy Sang A Song

I heard a song by Bill Anderson: Mama Sang A Song, and it struck a chord with me. My mama sang hymns too, all the day. And as the song says, I think a lot about the time back when I was a girl.

Mummy was a SAHM. Of course back then the term was not in use because in my country, in those days, most mothers stayed at home. So it was no big deal. But unlike most mothers, mine had been a working girl before she married. She was a WRIN. That's what the women working for the Women's Royal Indian Navy service were called! Since Daddy didn't want her to continue working she resigned herself to being a housewife. The term 'home-maker' was not in use then. Mummy didn't seem to resent that. But life did not prove to be what she had dreamed it would be. 

She grew up in a well-to-do family. Although she was an orphan, she was the child of rich parents. Her foster parents were affluent too. My father on the other hand grew up in a respectable family, but 'rich' or 'well-to-do' were not tags ascribed to it. His father was a school teacher with ten kids, though respectable and certainly not in a hand-to-mouth situation, the family was just getting by comfortably. She grew up in a different society and their cultures and traditions were poles apart. But I guess it was a case of opposites attract. That didn't matter all that much either, what did make it difficult was the absence of the luxuries she had been used to and the extravagance. She used to go for breakfast to the Taj Hotel in Mumbai before she got married and took friends with her many times! Daddy gave her the best he could. There was no lack of domestic help; people to help around the house and kitchen and at most times, two people on twenty-four hour call. But that compensated for little. Her expectations went beyond the domestic arena. So life was difficult for her. There was a lot of adjustment involved at every step. But Mummy sang; she sang to build up courage; she sang to console herself; she sang to rekindle joy; she sang to calm her soul; she sang to cheer up her sagging spirits; she sang to fill the home with melody; she sang because she loved to sing.

When she was at a crossroad and didn't know where to turn, she sang "What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear, what a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer."

I remember her stirring and baking and cooking her way through delicious meals for the family as she filled the kitchen with tempting aromas and heavenly tunes: "The chimes of time ring out the news another day is through, someone slipped and fell was that someone you? You may have longed for added strength your courage to renew, do not be disheartened for I have news for you: it is no secret what God can do, what He's done for others He'll do for you...."

When Daddy put in for a premature retirement from the Navy, and moved the family to his home town in Punjab, she was devastated. Did she crack? No. She took it in her stride. And as she took to rural life, pumping water from a hand pump, washing, cleaning, and cooking with no domestic help she sang: "Tempted and tried we're oft made to wonder, why it should be thus all the day long while there are others living around us, never molested though in the wrong. Further along we'll know all about it. Further along we'll understand why, cheer up my sister live in the sunshine, we'll understand it all by and by."

When she was lonely with no one she could befriend in this Punjab town, she went through the day happily humming: "I've found a friend in Jesus, He's everything to me, He tells me every care on Him to roll, He's the lily of the valley, the bright and morning star, He's the fairest of ten thousand to my soul."

And when she lay down tired, at the end of the day, she'd fall asleep singing: "Safe in the arms of Jesus, safe from corroding care, there by His love o'er shaded sweetly my soul shall rest."

Mummy sang some other songs too, but her favorite and most sung songs were hymns. Although I have mentioned situations and some hymns she'd sing, it was not the only reason she sang. Mummy loved to sing. She sang alto in the church choir. Mummy actually taught us faith. Not in sermons; not in speech, but through her songs. She turned to God every time to replenish hope, love and joy not only when things became difficult for her but all the day long. And in doing so taught me a valuable lesson.

Mummy's singing brought peace and calm then, and today the legacy she left carries forward in my home and life.

I sing too. I sing a lot of songs of different genres, unlike my mother, but like her I sing a lot of hymns too. Like our home when I was a girl, my home is also filled with songs. I am so grateful for her singing. It made me happy when I was a girl and it makes for such precious memories now.

These lines from the song sum it up:

"God put a song in the heart of an angel, and softly she sang it to me.....
I get to thinking lots of times.....of the old home place where I grew up,
of the days both good and bad....
our home fire never flickered once, 'cause when things went wrong.....
mama sang a song...... 
And those were the greatest days of all, When mama sang a song....
No voice is left to fill those halls, And no steps to grace the floor,
For you see my mother sings in heaven now, around God's golden throne.
But I'll always believe this world is a better place (for me)
because one time my mama sang a song.

I am a grandmother now but the memories of Mummy's singing, as she carried on faithfully with her chores and duties, still motivate and inspire me.

Thank you for the songs Mum. Thank you for the faith.



  1. This is a lovely tribute to your mother. I wonder if our mothers knew how these kinds of things would influence us over the years. My mom often sang too, everything from hymns to her childhood favorites. Occasionally we sing those hymns mom sang in our church and it's hard for me to get through them without shedding a few tears. She's been gone 4 years now. I miss her still.

  2. Ur power to make simple speech magical still lingers ma'am... I just hope I can gain a little of not just ur wisdom but also your uncanny gift of touching hearts with lovely words...