SGLY: Long after the song is over

By Tiffany Chartier
Special to the Prosper Press

During my first physical therapy session, my doctor told me to “take a mental escape” to help relax the tension in my muscles. I tried to focus on other things, but I jumped off the table when she pressed upon my trigger point.

“Take your time. Breathe. We’ll go slow,” she said. Her voice was strong and calm, and soon I found myself back on the table. I tried to distract myself by singing a song in my head. The more relaxed I became, the unspoken melody slipped out in a soft hum.

“What are you humming?” she asked.

I had to think about it for a moment. What was I humming? “A Nat King Cole song,” I replied. “I can’t remember the title right now.” I shook my head in embarrassment, not realizing she was paying attention to my humming more than I was.

She kept working, but I could tell by her touch that she was focused elsewhere.

“I know that song. I’ve heard it before. My daddy has it on vinyl.”

“Vinyl? That’s cool.”

I felt the pressure of her fingertips lift from my back, and I turned my head just enough to see her shift her weight. It was almost as if she were trying to balance an unexpected thought.

“Unforgettable,” I said, rising to a sitting position, thankful I remembered the name of the song.

“You can say that again,” she said more to herself than to me.

Crazy how one life intertwines itself with another, neither expecting to evoke anything more than a transaction, a service and a co-pay. Yet, in this brief time of two strangers meeting, I had tapped into a memory of hers — warm, welcoming and charming as a vinyl record.

“I’m sorry,” she said, looking at me like she forgot I was there. “I think my busy schedule is catching up with me.” She started to motion for me to lay back down, but I spoke first.

“Does your dad collect vinyl records?” I asked.

“He did. Both my parents are dead. I guess you could say I collect vinyls now.” Her voice slowed as she continued, like her mind was flipping through an old album. “He had quite the collection. I remember as a kid watching him come in from the garage into the kitchen. When he would work super late, I would already be in my nightgown by the time he got home. He would pour himself a scotch and water and put on a record. He would sit in his chair, unbutton his collar, and lean his head back. I knew it was okay for me to sit on his lap when he started humming. I would climb upon him, and he would put his drink down, wrap both arms around me, and sing me to sleep. I heard a lot of Nat King Cole growing up,” she said. Her sad eyes betrayed her smile.

“You have all his records?” I asked as I watched her — she was younger than me by 15 years, obviously took good care of herself physically, and by the accolades on her wall, she was doing

alright. Yet, when she answered my question, her voice sounded like that of a child: a tired, lonely, and vulnerable child.

“I couldn’t let them go,” she whispered.

What I think she meant was she couldn’t let him go. Her tears startled her. She quickly wiped them away and stood in front of me. “I apologize. That was completely unprofessional.”

I looked at her. She started to age before my eyes. The little girl was being quieted and the trained woman was trying to regain control. “Nah, you’re not being unprofessional,” I said. “You are being a daughter who misses her dad. You are still his daughter, and he is still your dad. I hit a memory, and it was like a trigger point for you — unexpected and potent — evidence that you have loved greatly and have been loved greatly. Nothing wrong with that. Nothing at all.”

We finished my session with her working on me as she shared how much she has grown to appreciate the sound of vinyl – even the crackles, pops, and skips.

Loving is like that, isn’t it? Full of crackles, pops, and skips? Yet the warmth, richness, and depth of genuinely loving someone keeps us humming long after the song is over.

SGLY, dear reader.

(Smile, God Loves You.)

Tiffany Kaye Chartier

Tiffany Kaye Chartier is a Christian author and opinion columnist. Submit feedback and connect for more soul lifts on Facebook: Tiffany Kaye Chartier; Instagram:@tiffanysgly; and Twitter: @tiffanychartier. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Texoma Marketing and Media Group.