Randy Keho

5 years ago · 3 min. reading time · visibility ~10 ·

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The Sound of Silence: When Thoughts Consume Your Thoughts


Music has long been a tapestry that chronicles my life -- a timeline, if your will.
It's like an unending spool of thread that sews the bits and pieces of my life together. Some good, some bad.
For me, nothing conjures up memories like a favorite tune.
My first memories of music take me back to getting ready for school.
My mother used to listen to the local AM radio station as she made me breakfast.
The radio sat atop a bench seat that was part of a nook that overlooked the backyard.
It was the early 1960s and radio had yet to splinter into dozens of different formats. You could hear it all on one station.

Nat King Cole's "Lazy Days of Summer" could segue into "Sugar Shack" by the Fireballs, followed by "Blame it on the Bossa Nova" by Eydie Gorme.
The Beach Boys were just beginning to infiltrate the mix with songs like "Surfin' U.S.A."
My personal favorite was "Puff the Magic Dragon," by Peter, Paul and Mary.
As a result, I would eventually pursue a degree in radio broadcasting and enjoy a short-lived career as a disc jockey. 
But, long before that, some friends of my mother gave me an old phonograph. It was a turning point in my life.
It looked like a glorified close-and-play. It was portable, like a suitcase. 
I didn't even have a record to play. But, a visit to my aunt and uncle's house in Toronto solved that problem.
At the urging of my crazy aunt Joyce, my mother bought me my first long-play record. It was the Beatle's "Yesterday and Today." I still have it, protected by a plastic outer sleeve, which I eventually purchased to safeguard each of the 500 or so records in my collection. 
It was the start of a lifelong appreciation for music, which, as I grow older by the day, encompases every form except classical, disco, and rap. But, to each his own. 
My mother, an award-winning Irish dancer while growing up in Belfast, introduced me to jigs and reels.
I'll never forget the day I was hanging out in our basement room, when I heard a constant pounding on the floor above.
I ran upstairs to see my mother leaping up and down on the livingroom floor.
Her spirit had moved her to dance.
It was the one and only time I ever saw her perform. I was mesmerized. 
It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it, as she withers away in a nursing home, a victim of dementia. 
During a conditional update with the nursing home staff, they asked me what she might like to ease her final days?
I immediately thought of listening to some Irish reels, in addition to lemon meringue pie.
So, I purchased a compact disc of reels and brought them to her.
She just smiled, no longer recognizing who I am. 
I know firsthand how an invisible disease can suck the joy out of things you once couldn't live without. I've been battling depression for nearly 30 years, often finding myself staring at my high-tech stereo, but not feeling motivated enough to even turn it on. It sucks.
For me, listening to music is a very personal pleasure, done in complete solitude.
However, it's not conducive to the disposition of someone suffering from depression. The last thing you want to do is find yourself alone and trapped by your thoughts. Everything becomes background music.
Before you know it, the music's ended and you don't even recall hearing it.
The sound of silence is a very real thing.
The music gets drowned out like the cacophony of noises emanating from a busy street while taking a walk.
If you hadn't noticed, this story has veered off into an unintended direction.
Instead of highlighting the music that's made my life bearable, it's turned my thoughts toward the dark, menacing disease that often deprives me of the joy music brings.
Please note what just happened. It's an example of how the mind of a depressive individual can turn on a dime.
One dark thought. One dark memory. That's all it takes.
Now, Imagine the thought of that happening numerous times a day, for years on end. It can be debilitating.

Fortunately, I've been lucky enough to recognize my triggers, the thoughts that consume my thoughts.
Nonetheless, as you can see, it's a never-ending battle.
Most of you who've taken the time to read this are familiar with my usual "devil-may-care-attitude." 
My reputation often precedes me. And, that's okay.
There are many things I no longer take seriously. I can't.
For one thing, I've realized that many aren't worth worrying about or getting upset about in the first place. 
For a second thing, they're triggers.
That's why I tend to inject a little humor into the mix. Life's too short to dwell on the negative aspects of life, especially when there's so many positive aspects within our reach.
For some of us, we just have to reach a little further to grasp them.


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Sara Jacobovici

5 years ago #12

Thanks for letting me know Randy Keho. A smile sounds good. She sounds like quite a personality. I don't wish for anyone who is caring for her to get hurt but as long as she's got the fight in her.....

Randy Keho

5 years ago #11

Me? A dancer? Not by any stretch of the imagination. That talent was not passed on, even though my father could cut a rug, too. It was something to behold when they would take to the floor during wedding receptions. They looked like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

Randy Keho

5 years ago #10

She responded with a smile, which is the most I could have expected. She's mostly bedridden or in a wheelchair at best. She's been in hospice care for months, weighing maybe 80 pounds. She's a fighter, always has been, and the staff often falls victim to a punch or two on a daily basis. She doesn't like to be touched, but she needs help doing everything. They nicknamed her "Tyson," after the professional boxer.#6

Phil Friedman

5 years ago #9

Randy Keho gives us a pointer for dealing with depression in our own lives, not to mention some insight into struggling with dementia in a loved one. I cannot recommend this post too highly.

Phil Friedman

5 years ago #8

Truly terrific piece, Randy Keho. Because you avoid celebrating your issues in the all-to-common form of emotional exhibitionism. You convey the depth of your feelings and the seriousness of the subject, not to mention your feeling toward your mom, without inviting shallow expressions of sympathy. But instead share what you've learned about copy. Well done, indeed. Sharing this now.
Is this a kind of "thoughts Cannibalism"? I concur fully with Sara Sara Jacobovici comments. Congratulations Randy Keho for writing this wonderful buzz

Sara Jacobovici

5 years ago #6

An important story Randy Keho, beautifully communicated and one that needs to be "heard".

Sara Jacobovici

5 years ago #5

An important story Randy Keho, beautifully communicated and one that needs to be "heard". If I may suggest, from my perspective, there is a difference between not being able to hear something and silence. Mozart (don't hold the fact that he was a classical composer against him ;) said: “The music is not in the notes, but in the silence between." Nothing can take the sound of music away from you, it's always there when you can hear it and its silence. PS Did your mother respond to hearing the Irish reels?

Lisa Gallagher

5 years ago #4

Thanks Randy Keho, it's been my hope by sharing my own personal stories that others would feel free to as well. I'm glad you shared yours! I also appreciate the fact that you were open, it does take a bit of courage. Each time I post something new, I swear I sweat bullets for a while before I finally hit post. I would love to see the photo, I bet you have many stories to tell about your mom's time as an Irish dancer. My husband's father had dementia and it was tough on the entire family. Will keep you in my thoughts (and your mom)!

Randy Keho

5 years ago #3

Thank you for your reply Lisa Gallagher#2 I tagged you because I've read your personal battles with anxiety and admire your courage to speak openly about it. I appreciate your efforts to help dispel the stigma of mental illness. I believe I do have a black-and-white photo of mom in one of her outfits and some medals, too. The aunt who practically raised her was a dance teacher in Belfast -- very old school.

Lisa Gallagher

5 years ago #2

Hi Randy Keho, thanks for tagging me. I'm really sorry to hear about your mom, dementia is tough illness to watch a loved one 'wither' away from as you put it. Keep hanging on to those happy memories, even now! I had so many wonderful memories of my mom and I can honestly say they helped me to cope when she became bedridden. I didn't realize they were helping at the time but they did. I'm also sorry you suffer from depression. I can really relate to jumping from one topic to another, the brain tends to run in circles at times, faster than the physical body. Depression is a lonely and frustrating illness. I'm glad you're able to recognize your triggers. Keep listening to the music you enjoy, even if you feel you haven't heard it- it may be helping. You are proof that we can never assume that someone lives a carefree life because you are the jokester and you have provided so many visually lovely stories. I know everyone has their battles but there are many battles that seem socially acceptable to speak of while depression and other illnesses still take a back burner to what's considered socially acceptable. I think social media is helping to change that perception, or that is my hope. I remember not that long ago, it was something people kept hush for major fear of being rejected by others who didn't understand it at all. I hope the stigma is completely gone one day because it is a medical illness. Your right- there are many positives in life and I try to hang on to those too. My kids bring me a lot of joy. I'm glad you are able to do that. Lastly, I think it's so cool that your mom was an award winning Irish dancer, are there any photos? Thanks for sharing this and love the poster, darn those voices lol.

Randy Keho

5 years ago #1

Margaret Aranda, MD, PhD

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