On caregivers, faith, family, and writing…

Posts tagged ‘music’

God’s Choir | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Community Chronicle in the June, 2020 edition and the Rains County Leader on June 23, 2020:

Porch gliderLast year, our front porch began to list to the southeast. Investigation showed that the support post on that corner was rotting away. We discussed our options with a local handyman, and several months and several thousand dollars later, we had a beautiful covered porch furnished with an indoor/outdoor rug, two padded rocking chairs and a comfy glider for two. We have spent many happy hours on our new addition, especially during this time of social distancing when God has blessed us with a lot of porch-sitting weather.

One morning, I was rocking and reading when I was distracted by a birdsong I didn’t Birdsongrecognize. It sounded like someone had pressed a key on a synthesizer and held it for a couple of seconds. The song continued for a minute or two with brief breaks between notes, but I was never able to find the singer. While I was looking for him, I noticed another bird singing what could have been a riff from a doo-wop song. I closed my book for a while and just listened, and I heard more birdsongs than I could count. (more…)

Malcolm Corley – Superhero! | by Linda Brendle

Marias FamilyMaria Thompson-Corley is an amazing woman. She modestly describes herself on Facebook this way: “Busy! Single mother of two, musician, arranger, writer–well, that’s enough explanation.” On the contrary, that’s not nearly enough to explain the inner and outer beauty of this talented woman and her two talented children.

Maria is a gifted pianist, composer, and arranger who doesn’t simply dabble in music in her spare time but is in great demand on the concert stage. She is also a gifted writer. Letting Go, her first novel, and is a five-star read. She describes it as “a long-distance love story that also examines race, religion, and the difficult choices we make following our passions.” However, she would probably tell you that her greatest accomplishment is her two children. Kiana and Malcolm take after their mother in their love of the arts. Her daughter Kiana has used her talent as a singer and guitarist to develop quite a presence on You Tube. Her son Malcolm, like his mother and sister, loves music, but his first love is art, and this is his story.

At three years of age, Malcolm was diagnosed with PDD-NOS. There are long, involved Malcolmexplanations of those initials on the Internet, but the short version is that he is on the autism spectrum. Maria explains that he takes in and understands information, both verbally and the written word, but he sometimes has difficulty expressing himself – except through his art.

Around the time his challenges were recognized, he began to exhibit his strengths. His first drawings were recreations of pictures he had seen on Blues Clues, a children’s program that was popular on Nickelodeon at the time. With the encouragement of family and teachers, his art progressed, and in the 9th grade he began to decorate tiles.

Malcolms TilesIn 2015, Malcolm saw a YouTube video of Julianatoren, an amusement park in Amsterdam, and he became obsessed with the idea of visiting it. The people in his life do not believe in limits, and they set about helping him earn the money to go. Through a Facebook site called Malcolm’s Tiles and a website by the same name, he began to market exquisite hand-designed decorative tiles, and last summer, Malcolm, Maria, and Kiana visited The Netherlands.

Maria and I met several years ago through our mutual writing connections, and although we have never met in person, I consider her a dear friend. Early last fall, when I was beginning to think about Christmas gifts for my son and his family, I approached her with a question. As Malcolm continues to expand his artistic repertoire, he has painted several stunning oil portraits, and I asked Maria if he could do portraits on tiles. She said he had never tried, but she would ask him about it. He agreed, and I emailed several pictures of Christian, Amy, Mattias, and Zoe and waited for the results. They were amazing.

Piatt portraits

In Malcolm’s story as told on his site, there are some details about the creative process:

It’s difficult to overstate the care and precision required to finish these tiles. The colors can’t be erased, since they are oil-based. The circles are traced, but everything within them is done freehand. As a result, no two are exactly alike. They are never completely symmetrical, but I think there is a message in this: that “perfection” isn’t a requirement for beauty.

Malcolm is now 18 and, after making a huge dream come true, he continues to develop his gifts as a means of earning his way in life. In a world where heroes are valued, this young man who faces challenges each day and overcomes them qualifies as a superhero. If you need a one-of-a-kind gift for a loved one, pay a visit to Malcolm’s Tiles. You might see something you like, or you might make a suggestion like I did and spark a completely different line of tiles. On the other hand, you might just need a little bit of inspiration from someone who knows what it means to overcome. Either way, everyone wins!



Book Review: Letting Go: A Novel by Maria Thompson Corley


Blurb: Even though she lives hundreds of miles away, when Langston, who dreams of being a chef, meets Cecile, a Juilliard-trained pianist, he is sure that his history of being a sidekick, instead of a love interest, is finally over. Their connection is real and full of potential for a deeper bond, but the obstacles between them turn out to be greater than distance. Can these busy, complicated people be ready for each other at the same time? Does it even matter? Before they can answer these questions, each must do battle with the ultimate demon–fear.  (more…)

Caregiver Quotes and Tips – Headphones | by Linda Brendle

Photo (WFAA)

Photo (WFAA)

WFAA-TV in Dallas recently ran a story about Miss Cora, a 90-year-old woman with dementia who often sits quietly all day–that is until she gets down with her tunes. I tried to embed the video, but I couldn’t get it to work. However, it is well worth an extra click to see this endearing video that shows Miss Cora and her caregiver sharing a connection that only seems to come through music.

To see the story and video, CLICK HERE.



winding road Cover 25 percentA LONG AND WINDING ROAD: A Caregiver’s Tale of Life, Love, and Chaos

Available now in ebook format at:

B&N // Kobo // iTunes // Amazon // Smashwords // Google Play



Caregiver Quotes and Tips #9 – Melody and Memory

Melody and Memory

Even in the later stages of Alzheimer’s, many people still respond to music.

Ours was a musical family, and many of our gatherings included a hymn sing around the piano. Mom and I liked to stand together so we could harmonize, and sometimes we had our own singing sessions seated side by side on our piano bench at home. When she and Dad came to live with David and me, we took them to church with us every Sunday where, once again, she and I sang side by side. She struggled with some of the contemporary choruses, but she remembered the old hymns.

The senior adult ministry at our church had a monthly luncheon that always included some sort of entertainment. Once in a while that took the form of a hymn sing, and one afternoon, someone requested “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” It was one of “our” songs, one of the first songs we sang together. As we sang, our eyes met, and just for a moment, her eyes cleared and my mother was there, as she had been before Alzheimer’s. It didn’t last long. As the clarity faded from her eyes, she continued to sing, but I couldn’t make a sound past the lump in my throat. A couple of years later, there was another hymn sing, but Mom didn’t show up. She was physically present, and she sang along, but she stumbled over some of the words, and when our eyes met, there was no clarity.

Later, when Mom moved to assisted living, I spent a lot of my visiting time just sitting with her. One afternoon we were in the common area, and the TV was on one of the Gaither Gospel music shows. Without conscious thought, I started singing along, and Mom joined in. Her words were garbled and incoherent except when she came to the word “Jesus.” There was no connection between us, but every time Jesus’ name came up in a song, she smiled and sang out clearly and with conviction.

Her love of music continued to the end. When my brother played his guitar for her, she clapped in rhythm of hummed a line of harmony. When she passed away, the staff who took care of her sent a card with personal notes scribbled inside. One said “I’ll never forget dancing with her and listening to her hum to the songs at church.” Mom loved music, and she loved Jesus. Alzheimer’s didn’t stand a chance against that combination.



A LONG AND WINDING ROAD: A Caregiver’s Tale of Life, Love, and Chaos

Available now at:

B&N // Kobo // iTunes // Amazon // Smashwords // Google Play

Music and Alzheimer’s: The Memories of Music Live On | by Linda Brendle

Piano keyboardMusic allows patients who are normally shut off from the world to participate in enjoyable activities and connect with loved ones. It may also sooth agitation and smooth out other behavioral issues.

 Music Has Power

I’ve read several articles recently about the connection between music and Alzheimer’s patients, and all of them agree that music has power. An article on the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America website states that “[music] can spark compelling outcomes even in the very late stages of the disease.” It goes on to explain how music allows patients who are normally shut off from the world to connect with loved ones and to participate in enjoyable activities. Music is also a valuable tool in managing agitation and other behavioral issues. (more…)

Music Frees the Spirit and the Children | by Guest Blogger Maria Thompson Corley

I believe in the healing power of music, and I also believe it is our responsibility to care for “the least of these.” Maria Corley, one of my fellow AKA authors, asked for help in raising awareness about a new organization that combines the two. How could I say anything but yes.


Children of incarcerated parents have a 72% chance of being incarcerated themselves.  One in twenty-eight children in America falls into this category.  While Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and other charitable organizations are actively involved in serving children with imprisoned parents, there is only one charity in the country specifically devoted to breaking the cycle.  Even more shocking:  SWAN (Scaling Walls A Note at a Time) has only existed since December of 2011. (more…)

The Cycle of Life | by Linda Brendle

We laid Mom to rest yesterday. We celebrated her life with a simple but heartfelt memorial service attended by a few relatives and close friends. It was the feminine version of the service we held for Dad 53 weeks ago. (more…)

Mom’s Busy Hands | by Linda Brendle

One of my writer friends recently issued a challenge in her blog to describe the hands of someone; to try and show this person to the reader by showing her hands. I immediately thought of Mom’s hands. If I had to describe them in one word, I’d have to use the word “busy.” (more…)

The Risk of Making a Joyful Noise | by Linda Brendle

A couple of weeks ago the worship leader at my church asked if I would sub on the piano this past Sunday. There was a slight pause as several thoughts ran through my head.

It’s been 15 or 20 years since I played for a worship service and over a year since I’ve touched a keyboard that wasn’t attached to a computer.

I’ve never played most of the praise choruses we sing now, and a week doesn’t give me a lot of time to learn.

The church doesn’t have a real piano. It’s an electronic keyboard, and I’ve never played one. Besides that, Stacy stands up to play, and I don’t know if I can do that. (more…)

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