Mother’s Day 2024 – “The Gift” – A Special

What do you give someone who has everything?  I Googled with a crinkled brow and hitched breath.  Various sponsored sites offering floral arrangements, gourmet culinary delights, and silk pillows appeared on the screen, but Google didn’t understand!  I needed something better than all that.  I needed something huge, timeless, weightless, touching, surprising, customized, and easy to pack. You see, my mother isn’t just anyone – she’s a songwriter. A lauded, celebrated, ‘You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you’ kind of songwriter. She’s Carly Simon. And I’m her daughter, Sally Taylor – a musician in my own right, treading pathways she pioneered.

The Star That You Are

Growing up, the offspring of such an iconic figure could easily engulf one in a shadow so vast, it might seem impossible to find your own light. But here’s the thing – Mama always had an uncanny way of making space for my cacophonies amidst her own symphonies. She was an oak that made sky for a sapling, an ocean that welcomed a stream.  To me, she is more than just a mother; she is my first and final audience. Imagine, then, trying to encapsulate all my gratitude and all of those feelings into a single gift.

I wasn’t just trying to say “Thank you” in a language that transcended words either.  Life, in its unforeseeable manner, began offering a challenging score for my mother in recent years. The once unstoppable force behind the piano had to confront her own vulnerabilities – first with hip surgery followed by two knee surgeries, daunting enough,  but in 2023 she was confronted with a Parkinson’s diagnosis and a smattering of other medical and emotional misfortunes that would have drown the most resilient swimmer.  Each recovery was an unwelcome intermission.  At times I feared her bed would swallow her whole as she lost bone density and muscle mass between the sheets. 

But never make the mistake of betting against Carly Simon folks.  My mama is one of the most resilient, humorous, spirited humans on the planet.  How else could she have battled a debilitating stammer, paralyzing stagefright, and the countless trials of being a female musician in the 60s, 70s, 80s & 90s to become known as one of the greatest singer/songwriters on the planet of all time?   My mission, after witnessing her multitudinous challenges was to help strengthen her greatest asset of all: hope.  It brought into sharper focus the need for a gift that was not just profound but healing, a reminder of the inner strength and resilience that still resided within her, regardless of life’s cruel twists. Something that would lift her out of her bed and lift her spirits by making her laugh.

I needed a gift that encapsulated a lifetime of memories and laughter while being light enough to fit into a carry-on.  When Google finally got the significance of what I was asking for it presented me with exactly what I needed: Songfinch.  I knew immediately it held the key to something special.  It offered a platform to have a song tailor-made for my mama, written by a professional songwriter (other than me) in a genre of my choosing and sprinkled with personal anecdotes. I decided, after hours of listening to their sample songs and envisioning my mother’s smile, that this was the canvas I needed.

The process was simple; I provided some details of my mother’s life, the key messages I wanted to convey, and a few inside jokes (for example, how much she loves tapioca pudding and would eat it exclusively if left to her own devices) and Songfinch took it from there. The result was just what I’d been looking for, a song that not only said “thank you,” but acknowledged the hard times and acted as a reminder of what a badass she is.

The song was delivered to my inbox, and with it came a cascade of laughter and joy.  It wasn’t just a gift; it was a handcrafted echo of inside jokes, focused prayers, wishes and shared memories.  I couldn’t wait to play it for her on my next visit.

On a cold February morning, under a four-poster bed overlooking Central Park, I asked Mama if I could play her a song. 

“Sure,” she said, always up to hear something new.  I’d handwritten the lyrics on a sheet of paper which I slid into her hands and hit “play.”  I watched the first verse light up her face as she realized the song was about her.  It prompted tears, laughter, and a shared moment of reflection that replayed the history and hope of our unique bond.  When it ended, she kissed me and said:

“Play it again?”

This time we sang along.  Through Songfinch, I found a way to send my prayers, offer my condolences, and sing my thanks in somebody else’s voice to somebody else’s beat.  I found a way to make my mother laugh and that, my friends, is The Gift.

Reader interactions

19 Replies to “Mother’s Day 2024 – “The Gift” – A Special”

  1. Sally E Packard May 12, 2024 at 3:51 pm

    Love this Sally. I have thought of using this to make a song for my husband.

    Reply

  2. I love this so much, and have tears streaming down my face a gazillion miles away in Montana. You found The perfect gift! It will keep filling her heart in those spaces and times that need filling.

    This is my first Mother’s Day without my mom. . . my heart, my best friend. I cared for her through her battle with Alzheimer’s and the longer battle with MS, and in the last year- she wanted only tapioca and Snickerdoodles that “Kay had made.”

    Reply

  3. Sally,

    What a wonderful Mother’s Day gift for your mom! I love the photo collage and the lyrics. Very cute that you snuck the tapioca reference in the song – there’s something old fashioned and comforting about tapioca, and I am on “team Carly.” Getting older is not for the faint of heart, and I am sure that your mama is meeting the challenge with grace despite all of the challenges thrown her way. Thanks for sharing this with us, and please remind your mom that she is loved and appreciated around the world.

    -Cindy

    Reply

  4. Jeffrey J Sidelsky May 12, 2024 at 6:06 pm

    This was such a gift to read on the day I miss my own Mother. Years ago, Carly wrote a tribute to her mother, Andrea, in a beautiful song called, Like A River. I have shared it with various friends when they become motherless children (another moving song about loss). Carly’s music has always been a lamplight for me and I believe so many others. Thank you, Sally, for sharing so intimately & honestly. Happy Mother’s Day to you as well! Much love, Jeffrey

    Reply

    1. Thank you Dear Jeffery. And thank you for all the photos you’ve taken of us over the years.

      Reply

      1. You are an amazing and thoughtful daughter.
        What a beautiful bond you have with one another. That’s what love is all about. I wrote and performed a rap for my daughter’s recent 50th hip hop birthday. Lots of fun.

        Reply

      2. You are an amazing and thoughtful daughter.
        What a beautiful bond you have with one another. That’s what love is all about. I wrote and performed a rap for my daughter’s recent 50th hip hop birthday. Lots of fun.

        Reply

  5. I love this so much. Sending hugs and big love. ❤️😭❤️

    Reply

  6. Marianne Cancelleri May 12, 2024 at 11:02 pm

    Sally, this is priceless and wonderful. I’m sure your mom is delighted with it as she should be. Her devotion and dedication to you and Ben is exemplary, admirable and how all mothers should be. Happy Mother’s Day to her and you as well. Thank you for bringing her such joy. Praying for her. Lord knows her music has been such a spiritual and important part of my life.

    Reply

  7. This is so beautiful. My eyes are misting up and my heart is swelling. I feel the love flowing from every picture. Thanks for putting Songfinch in my thoughts. I hope it was a good Mother’s Day for you and Carly. Always, always sending good, positive vibes to your wonderful mother.

    Reply

  8. Oh Sal, that is a treasure and you are a treasure for putting all the thought and love into creating it. She is such a lucky mama to have you and Ben as her ducklings. The love oozes out of those images….love seeing Bodhs! You are all precious creative spirits, each one of you……sending you tons of love and appreciation too mama!

    Reply

    1. Thank you my beloved friend. I love you and miss you!

      Reply

  9. Sally,

    Priceless! Tears for all that love and your mom a beautiful gift of hope.

    My thoughts and prayers always for Carly! What a family she created.

    Reply

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