It’s funny how at times, quite unexpectedly a song can open up a floodgate of emotions. Sometimes, as is the case with me and recording artist Pink’s, “Who Knew?” it can truly come from out of left field.
This particular song was intended to have a totally different meaning than the one it accidentally took on to me. It was obviously meant to be a “break-up” song but once one knows my story, they would easily understand how the lyrics reached out to my heart in a different way.
To better understand where I am coming from allow me if you will, to take you back in time. As a little boy, I remember standing in the doorway of my parent’s bedroom holding tightly to my sister’s hand as we watched our father suddenly die in our mother’s arms. The scene had left us both traumatized and shocked, so you can imagine my disbelief when only two and a half years later, Maureen and I were asked to take a seat on our grandparent’s sofa only to be told that our teenaged brother had passed away. Suffice it to say as a child I felt quite fearful to leave my mother, panicking that she may be the next one I suddenly lose. Sensing my anxiety, my mom used to sit me down every so often and PROMISE that she would NEVER, EVER leave me.
Now decades later, I was listening to the radio when “Who Knew?” came on. Although I have “heard” the song a thousand times, I guess I never really “listened” to it until today. If I would have guessed that a song could cause me to be overcome with emotion, I would have at least thought it to be a ballad, not a rock song! In spite of the fact that I basically [thought]I knew most of the lyrics (at least to the chorus) the poetry of the words took me by surprise and brought me back to my mother. Of course when she was making her promise to me as a young boy, she knew there would come a time in my life when she would be gone and my life would have to go on without her. Still my heart was haunted by the lyrics of the first verse…
“You took my hand you showed me how
You promised me you’d be around
Uh huh… that’s right
I took your words and I believed…
in everything you said to me
Yeah huh, that’s right
If someone said three years from now, you’d be long gone
I’d stand up and punch them out, cause they’re all wrong
I know better… cause – you said forever… and ever… Who knew?”
In my adult life, my mom was my best friend. She was the best friend to every one of her five children. We knew her love was unconditional and that there was nothing so bad or so personal that we could not go to her for quiet understanding and guidance. Like so many other wonderful things we have in life, I look back and find myself guilty of taking my mom and our time together for granted. In the final years of her life, I often found myself too busy to give my mom the time and attention she deserved, but she never made me feel badly about that and always appreciated every moment we spent together. That’s why the lyrics to the second verse made me ache…
“Remember when we were such fools… and so convinced and just too cool
Oh no… No no
I wish I could touch you again.
I wish I could still call you friend… I’d give anything.
When someone said count your blessings now, ‘fore they’re long gone…
I guess I just didn’t know how, I was all wrong…
They knew better, still – you said forever… and ever… Who knew?”
The lord DOES INDEED work in mysterious ways and when I needed it most, he reached out to bless me with gifts that I will be forever grateful to have had bestowed upon me. The day my mom passed away, she had been trying to speak. She needed something, yet her voice was too weak to be heard. I asked her to repeat herself four times, each time getting closer and closer to her face to try and make her voice audible to me. At the final attempt, my ear and her mouth were almost touching, when exhaustion and frustration got the better of her and she simply gave up trying to ask. Something inside her knew how much I ached to be able to help her. She wanted to let me know that it was alright, so she kissed my face. It was her last kiss… ever. I can still feel it soft, warm and gentle against my cheek, just like her. That’s why the final verse was able to bring tears to this man’s eyes…
“If someone said three years from now you’d be long gone…
I’d stand up and punch them out, cause they’re all wrong and
That last kiss, I’ll cherish… Until we meet again
And time makes it harder…I wish I could remember
But I keep your memory… You visit me in my sleep.
My darling… Who knew… “
Just a little footnote here: my mom use to call us all “darling.” It was just her special term of endearment and everyone who knew her closely, associates the term with her. Ironiclly the final reprise of this song happens to say…
My darling… My darling… Who knew?
My darling… I miss you
My darling… Who knew… Who knew?”
I do miss my mom terribly but I am also very grateful for all of the wonderful, loving, happy memories that she left us with, as these will be with me forever. So I guess in a way, she held true to her promise, she IS with me forever and ever… Who knew?
Now, I’ve got a book to complete so… until next time,