Niagara Gazette

Columns

January 3, 2013

HAMILTON: Feeling the soothing echoes of Patti Page

Niagara Gazette — Patty Page, the 85-year old Oklahoman whose most popular song was “The Tennessee Waltz,” died on New Year’s Day. 

So now, I do something that I know my mother always did whenever she heard the beautiful, sweet, flowering voice of Page waft from the old AM radio. My Kentucky-born, West Virginian-raised young mother would pause, ask us children to hush, and then still herself as she listened and smiled.

My mom died when I was 7, and I learned to love the song, the Tennessee Waltz. It was because I loved my mom, and she loved that song. And although the song, “In the Garden” played at my mother’s funeral, I think of mom and feel as though I’m in a beautiful garden with her, whenever I hear Page’s signature song. 

Randy Lewis, of the Los Angeles Times, wrote of the death of the legendary Patti Page by saying that she, “…offered a soothing counterpart to the revolutionary new sound of rock 'n' roll …”

But Page offered me much, much more than just that; and she always will. Here’s why.

Community liaison Allen Booker asked me why I write and do community service. I had always thought that I looked into my soul to understand why I did specific things, but I had never really given too much thought to that broader question. The answer came quickly; and mutedly, somewhat reluctantly, I told him, “I guess it is just that I have always been trying to find my mother.” 

In all likelihood, had mom lived, the things that I do she would have been doing too; but much more and much better. 

In late September of 2010, I wrote about why I liked country music in a story about the road to Peterborough, Ont. That was before Booker asked me why I did the things that I do. Well, soon after my mom died, my country-born, Alabama-raised dad would spend even more time with us by taking us on long fishing trips. To be on the river by sunrise, we had to rise early in the morning and follow the truckers up those long, dark and lonely stretches of highway. As we passed near the isolated AM radio antenna towers, the only music that faded in and out from the radio was that of country music. 

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