Mount Josephine on the Grand Portage Reservation
In June, as I drove up to Mount Josephine in Grand Portage, Minn., I did something I have not done before. I took along our old iPod because I finally found the charger cord to plug it into the car. This was the iPod that Barry controlled. As I listened, our lives as a couple and his beginning stages of frontotemporal dementia (FTD) intertwined with in the playlist. Listening to music had always been a part in our lives. One of our biggest purchases when we were first
married was stereo equipment with huge speakers placed on either side of the fireplace in our first home.
We merged our record collections that included rock, folk, jazz and, yes, even disco music! I added lots of Christmas albums and my beloved Handel’s Messiah. Barry added Rolling Stone albums, Jackson Brown, Beatles and his beloved Tom Waits. I remember blasting Bruce Springsteen while we cleaned the house for company coming. As technology changed, so did our music. After having kids, we bought a tape player and for quite a few years it played fun children’s music by Raffi way more than rock! When we got a CD player, classical music, movie scores, Irish singers and Broadway musicals joined the playlist. Our musical tastes were growing along with our ages.
When the first iPod came out, Barry gave one to me so I could listen to music while flying. He put in a bunch of Tom Prin to help me relax on the plane. I used to be really scared of flying and he thought it might help. It did help (along with a cold beer). I also felt really cool walking around the airport with this new device!
A bunch of new iPods followed, each getting smaller with more and more stored music. Now years later, only this one remains. As I drove, I listened and remembered. There were many special songs that we both loved: Songs we danced to, special Christmas music that played quietly as we put the presents under the tree on Christmas Eve, and songs that we played late at night at Barry’s loft when we first fell in love. I am glad those songs are still on it.
Broke but buying songs
All those songs made me so sad because I was actually hearing the disease as it took over Barry and our lives as a couple. It also reminded me of how irritated and mad I was at him during that time. Before we knew he was sick, he became obsessed with the television show American Idol. He never missed an episode and downloaded each winner’s music. Then he became obsessed with the show the Voice. His whole life revolved around watching these shows. We were broke, but he would download music every week and make paid calls to vote. This was when I started to wonder who this new weirdo was that I was living with. As I headed North, the iPod also played countless purchased downloads from the show Glee.
When I arrived in Grand Portage, I really needed to hike to clear my head of the music and memories. Mount Josephine is very beautiful, especially on a clear day. The hike takes about 45 minutes – not long, but almost all is up hill. Don’t get discouraged if the path is underwater in the beginning. It dries out as you go up and the views of Lake Superior are spectacular when you get to the top. There are remnants of some type of tower and an old stone building at the top.
Maybe it was a tower that picked up radio signals so young couples in the 1940s and 1950s could listen to their favorite music!
As I hiked down, I wondered if I should start over with a new playlist on that iPod as I move forward without Barry. Every time I head north to hike, I discover a little more about this new person I am becoming. I know the first song I would add to the iPod would be Girl from the North Country by Bob Dylan.
Is it time for me to start my own playlist? Someday soon I may, but not quite yet. Besides, those Glee Christmas songs aren’t bad!