"Mom, have you ever heard this song?"
Usually it’s an older rock and roll song. I refrain from saying what I’m thinking out loud, which is, "Adam, I’m a card-carrying Baby Boomer. If it’s from the last 50 years, it’s part of the soundtrack of my life."
The song he heard was "Abraham, Martin and John," by Dion DiMucci. So when I give him this information, he starts searching for it. He comes up instead with "Runaround Sue," by Dion and the Belmonts and then starts picking the tune out on his guitar. We inevitably start doing a duet. He’s reading the words on the screen, I’m just singing the lyrics I know by heart.
This is the first 45 we owned in the U.S. As I’m singing with my son, I’m remembering how my sisters and brother used to play it over and over on that old record player. I remember learning how to do "the Twist" to it. I remember that first apartment in South West Miami. I remember bonding with my siblings over this record and how it represented a "very American moment " to us.
When that memory and this present collide, the tears spring to my eyes. I fumble for an explanation. But how can I explain that this particular song meant something so important to me and my sibs. That it represented an entire new life. The song is peppy and happy, even if it speaks of heartbreak. It feels incongruous to be crying. I don’t say any of these things, but I feel them as I’m singing and the tears are rolling down my cheeks. It’s silly, I know.
Such a deeply etched memory from my past is now touching my present. My 20 year old Cuban American son who will hopefully never have to know exile, holds me as we sing along with Dion the song that represents my own exile – and we share A MOMENT:
"Mom, this is amazing." "Yes, Adam. I agree."