More than 30 years after she first started writing it (and singing it all over the house), my mom finally finished a song about my middle little sister.
With an assist from an extremely kind teacher at Heid Music, and a lyric or two from my youngest sister Jenny and her daughter Erin (who now refer to themselves as McCartney and Lennon), Mom formally presented the song just in time for Kathy’s birthday.
“Hi, it’s Kathy” remains, to date, the only song my mother has ever written.
The song celebrates my sister’s smile and her spunk, both of which have held up admirably through some health challenges that would have felled, or at least embittered, a less worthy muse.
We’ve been hearing the first line “Hi it’s Kathy, laughing Kathy, with eyes of blue and lashes made of lace,” sung by my mother, since Kathy was a junior in high school with my mom as her English teacher and junior class advisor.
Her senior year, Kathy faced the first of the several brain surgeries and, through them all, my mom secretly fretted, outwardly comforted, strongly encouraged and regularly sang.
Kathy went on to become an English teacher and, like my mother, earned a Master’s Degree. In the intervening years, Kathy has been named Wisconsin’s Teacher of the Year, a Herb Kohl fellowship recipient and a distinguished alumnae of both the University of Wisconsin, where she earned her undergraduate degree, and the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, where she earned her Master’s in library and information science.
And, through it all, my mother played and sang the same one-line lyric on the piano every time I visited and often when she visited me.
“Hi, it’s Kathy, laughing Kathy, with eyes of blue and lashes made of lace…”
In 2013, Kathy was diagnosed with breast cancer and my Mom’s fretting, comforting, encouraging and singing continued, through treatments, recurrences and grateful periods of reasonably good health.
This year, as Kathy’s birthday rolled around, my Mom decided it was time to turn those lyrics into a genuine song.
Just under the deadline, “Hi, it’s Kathy” became an actual song, with sheet music and an upcoming CD.
In honor of the occasion, I’d like to say Hi and Happy Birthday to Kathy. I hope all your birthday wishes come true. I also hope that now that Mom has finished your song she can write another one.
“Hi, it’s Laura” has a nice ring.