dedicated to the memory of George
Composition, lyrics and production: Racheal Cogan
Ganassi Recorders, tenor recorders, Bass Recorders, Paetzold Contrabass, treble recorders, whistle, overtone flute, vocals: Racheal Cogan
Male vocals: Robert Poliquin
Violins: Wendy Rowlands
Bass Viola da Gamba: Jay Elfenbein
All of the stories that hold our lives in place,
Can be scattered like ashes and blown away.
And blown away.
I pray my spirit to be whole.
It’s the stuttering, the stuttering between moments,
That reveals the sticky, sticky damage in the mind.
And all of the stories that hold our lives in place
Are scattered and blown away.
What is Grace?
I wash your body
I clean your wrappings
Is this grace?
This is grace.
I am your hands, your feet, your mind.
This is Grace.
I pray my spirit to be whole.
This work was inspired by a part-time job I took 6 months ago caring for George. George had advanced Alzheimer’s combined with Lewy bodies and was living at home in the primary care of his daughter. I was in a very practical way faced by the devastation that this disease brings to the individual and their loved ones, and to be honest, it terrified me. It crept into my dreams in the form of nightmares where I was forced to face my fears and was often genuinely astounded that I remembered not only my name each morning but also all of the people in my life. To appear to lose the thread of our lives and the stories that hold it together is a frightening reality for the many people around us and their families who live with a form of dementia. Furthermore, the loss of connection with the body for even the most basic functions requires 24 observation, care and unlimited patience that has the potential to easily spiral downward into poverty, abuse, and abandonment. I was shocked by the inadequacies of a government system to help provide even the most basic medical needs for dignified palliative care in the home. To choose to look after a person with dementia, at home until they die, is a huge undertaking that will drain most people of all financial resources, cause them to be unable to work as the caring is so consistently demanding, and rob them of any sleep. I admire the courage and trust of George’s daughter to have cared for her father so lovingly and consistently despite what seemed to be unsurmountable odds.
George passed away as I was finishing this project. The music is dedicated to the courage in his daily will to live and enjoy the disjunct sparkling moments of life he had left to him. He was consistently patient, cheerful, polite and always thankful that there were people around him who cared for him as his mind and body deteriorated. He could never recall my name, despite the regular hours I spent with him, but to the day he died remained very clear who his daughter was.
I have been blessed by the three amazing musicians who participated in this project with me:
Wendy Rowlands, Jay Elfenbein, and Robert Poliquin.
They worked with me from disparate parts of the globe – Newstead, Australia; Paris, France; and Montreal, Canada.
Thank you so much for the time and generosity in each of your beautiful contributions.
Thanks to Violaine Corradi for listening and for your valuable insights and never-ending support.