Many of you knew my mom, Luverne E. Krueger (née Michelson), often because she was so actively involved in my life and pursuits, coming to almost every concert I gave, sitting in the pews at church every week, and accompanying MB and me on some of our trips. That is, until dementia began robbing her of her faculties about five or six years ago. Increasingly she disappeared, both in terms of who she was (her knowledge, her memories, her personality), and her physical, active presence in the lives of her children.
Lu, as she preferred to be called, died a couple days ago, right at midnight between Friday and Saturday (we’re still not sure which day — Dec. 8 or 9 — to cite — my sister Tere, who was with her, says it was a minute or two before midnight, but the official coroner’s report shows a few minutes past midnight). And, while this was not unexpected, and even a little wished for as she grew more and more frail, it has nonetheless rocked me considerably.
I have decided to dedicate St. Martin’s Chamber Choir’s Christmas Concerts this and next weekend to my mom’s memory. I think it is fitting, as she came to almost every St. Martin’s concert from its inception until about 2012; and it is something that I can do, of a public nature, as a tribute to her memory and place in my life. And, if any of you wish to join me in honoring her in this way, I would love to see you at one of these concerts.
In life, she probably would have been embarrassed by such a dedication (though I hope she would secretly have enjoyed the attention, not to mention the love implicit in the gesture from one of her sons); partly, as I stated in my Facebook posting on Saturday, this was because she struggled with feelings of self-worth throughout her life. But I am assured, as much as I believe in an afterlife (and I sometimes struggle), that, whatever manifestation it may take, she must now be resting in the assurance of her infinite worthiness.
There will be a memorial service for her at St. Andrew’s in early- to mid-January, and I will announce the exact date and time once it is concluded on.
As stated above, St. Martin’s Chamber Choir’s Christmas concerts this year, “A Winter’s Night,” will be dedicated to the memory of my mother, so I was just pondering what she would have thought of the concert herself. Here are my thoughts:
She would have LOVED the title work of this program — Cecilia McDowall’s “A Winter’s Night” — firstly because it is by turns both playful and introspective, very much like her own personality; secondly because three of the five tunes it treats are German carols; and thirdly because it is by a female composer, which she would have quietly reveled in as a sign of the increasing acceptance of women in this part of the arts where they have been so signally and sadly absent.
She would also have liked the featured work on the program, Benjamin Britten’s “A Boy was Born,” for its deep spirituality. In the latter part of her life, she became increasingly contemplative and catholic (small c) in her approach to her spirituality, and this work, with its Medieval nativity texts, its haunting mysticism, and its passionate intensity, would have appealed to that side of her.
Finally, she would have loved singing along with gusto to the four audience sing-alongs (with one of her favorite organists on the bench — she always loved Richard Robertson, with an almost motherly pride in his talents), for she was a passionate singer. From early duets and trios with her sisters, to a brief stint in my church choir in the 90’s, she always loved singing. Even when dementia had robbed her of the ability to remember, or even read, the words, she would sing along with the hymns lustily on “aah”, as tunes remain longer in the memory than lyrics (we were always amazed that she was always right in tune, and making up her own cogent harmonies, on these wordless paeans of hers).
So if you’re anything like my mom, you’ll love these concerts. Here they are:
Friday, Dec. 15, 7:30pm, St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral, Capitol Hill (advance sales quite healthy, so get tickets soon if this is the one you intend to attend)
Saturday Dec. 16, 7:30pm, Montview Presbyterian Church, Park Hill
Sunday, Dec. 17, 3:00pm, St. Paul Lutheran and Catholic Community of Faith, Capitol Hill
Friday, Dec. 22, 7:30pm, Bethany Lutheran Church, Cherry Hills Village
Tickets available at our website; or call our office at (303) 298-1970.