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The Song That Changed Your Life

Engelbert by Elaine McDivitt

This story is on the shortlist for The Song That Changed Your Life challenge. 

Video source: Youtube

Around the age of ten my best friend and I spent many happy hours playing pick up sticks on the round coffee table in the living room of her house. It was 1969 and my friend's mother loved listening to the crooners. There was a cabinet stereo and an album rack  filled with Dean Martin, Tom Jones, Bing Crosby and our absolute favourite, Engelbert Humperdinck. It wasn't because of his singing. When you are ten you cannot say that name without either bursting out laughing or stifling giggles. I think it annoyed my friends mother but she never lost her cool as she shook her head lightly, and smiled. Mrs. G as I called her, was usually in the the kitchen, making lunches for the next school day or casseroles for dinners. She was often heard humming along to the music as we played album after album to accompany our games. Mrs. G endured antics that we considered to be hilariously comical as we tried to play the straight faced innocents asking each other over and over, “Do you want to hear some Engelbert Humperdinck?”  

Engelbert had a hit single called, 'Please Release Me' that when sung, went more like, 'Pleeeeeeeeeeese Releeease Me' and it was our catch phrase when trying to pull a tricky move from the pick up sticks pile. One lazy afternoon we were playing a particularly serious game when we heard low singing and shuffling coming from the kitchen. My friend and I locked eyes over the coffee table and crawled stealthily towards the kitchen, peeking through the slats of the folding door. Mrs G was doing a slow waltz, singing softly, dish towel in one hand, plate in the other. The air felt reverent, tender. Something shifted in me, a blooming of sorts. Mrs. G sensed us,  turned slowly, stared into our wide eyes through the slats and said softly, “Oh, you girls. You'll be like this one day.” I hoped I would. I think of Mrs. G every time I hear a crooner. She passed away a few years ago. My friend and I still fall into giggles about those silly times but there is always a note of wonder and longing when we remember her mom waltzing.

Elaine McDivitt is from Seaforth, ON.

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