I truly believe that my mother Marion was an angel... and still is as I speak. The proof is in the things she did, the words that she spoke, the lessons she taught and the music she sang. She was honest, loyal, patient and unconditionally loving and kind to her family and friends. She was soft spoken and rarely said anything that was hurtful to anyone. The last time I visited her, she spoke briefly about death and dying. I told her, “Mom, you have nothing to worry about because you are one of God's angels”. She responded with a look as if to say, how did you know?
One of the many things angels do well is uphold the truth. My mother always taught us to tell the truth and try and see both sides of an argument. She would always consider both sides of the dispute and surmise the situation based on the actions and words of both parties involved. “Some people only see what they want to see or only hear what they want to hear”, she would say. She would have made a great supreme court judge.
Mom's wisdom came from listening. She was such a great listener. I always got the feeling that when I confided in her, her ears were an extension of God's and God was always eavesdropping. She used to say, “If you can't say anything nice about someone, then don't say anything at all”. I could always rest assured that my secrets were safe with her. That kind of trust is hard to find these days. Isn't it?
I also never met anybody so selfless. She was concerned about everyone except herself. Every time I would call her I would ask how she's doing. The answer would always be “I'm fine” regardless of whatever pain and suffering she might have been enduring at the time. She never seemed to feel comfortable talking about herself. The last time we spoke on the phone and I asked how she felt, it was the same response... this time I finally added, I think I'd have a heart attack if you ever said anything different than “I'm fine”. She laughed and said, “I don't want you to worry about me”. Even this last time in the hospital with all the wires and tubes connected to her, when asked, how she felt... she still slowly whispered, “I'm fine”. It was her pat answer, but beneath it was her desire to divert attention away from herself.
Well, the fact is, I never did worry about my mother because I know that God takes extra care of his angels. They may suffer quietly while in the flesh but they never die! They merely shed their skin and go back home for awhile until they are called again. Just think, If it weren't for angels, the human race would have destroyed itself thousands of years ago. It is because of angels like Marion Schuman that we still have faith in love, family, friendship, unconditional acts of kindness, charity and of course the ultimate power we affectionately call God.
I also know that my mom is well taken care of now because she came into this world with another angel beside her. Her twin sister Betty, who died suddenly at the age of five. I can't imagine what it must have been like to lose an identical twin at that age. It is obvious to me that this must be where her emotional strength came from. I can remember only a couple of times I actually saw my mother cry. I used to think her stoic behavior was cold but now I know it was just pure strength. It comforts me to imagine aunt Betty welcoming her long lost sister back home.
Of course, I cannot talk about my mother without mentioning her incredible talent. Mom's voice was angelic to say the least. She had a rich and pure operatic voice with a pristine sense of intonation. She sounded like a young Sarah Vaughan only less sassy. My mom gave us the best years of her brief musical life, then gave it up for her family so she could be a better wife and mother. She also knew all about the evil trappings of this music business. I would have given my life in return for a glimpse of what she would have accomplished if she actively pursued her dream to sing with a band. No wonder Dad fell in love with her on the bandstand. He never heard such a beautiful angel sing jazz.
Today we should not mourn the death of Marion Schuman. We should celebrate her spiritual graduation. She has returned home and can finally rest in peace until her next mission. No more worries! No more pain and suffering. No more disappointments. Let us all celebrate the memories of the moments we shared with her. Let's remember the good times and the fun we all had together. The only sad thought is of spending the rest of our lives without her. But the memories, teachings and gifts she gave us all will live in our hearts and minds forever! My mom was and always will be my guardian angel!
I feel nothing but pride and joy when I think about my loving mother Marion. So the next time someone asks me how I'm doing... I'm going to proudly say, “I'm fine”.
This soundcloud player features a private recording of “Lover Man” sung by my mother Marion Schuman, who passed away September 7th, 2010. The original recording was done at my family's home in the late sixties. I was trying to figure out the chord changes to this jazz classic (I was 9 or 10...I'm not sure). When my mother heard me, she started singing the tune for me so I could get an idea as to the melody and lyrics. My brother Tim quickly setup his tape machine and managed to capture some of our duet (which is why the first verse is missing). This tape was lost and forgotten for over 35 years. I discovered it while scouring through a box of old tapes I found using a machine that could play them. I decided last year to resurrect the recording and produce a virtual jazz trio around her voice to showcase my mom's incredible talent. Most people who knew her did not know she could sing because she stopped shortly after starting her family.
There is nothing I can do to bring my loving mother back to me. But listening to her sing gives me great comfort. I delivered her eulogy at the graveside memorial service October 2nd. Below is a copy of what I wrote.
I offer this page as a tribute to the woman who gave me life and supported my desire to become the best musician I can be. Thank you for listening!