Church choir today. We started practicing the Messiah for Christmas. "Wow," said my fellow alto. "Have you done this before? You know the part so well."
I laughed and told her that for years I sang soprano, with my mother singing alto in my ear. While I slid around on the high notes, I could hear Mom hitting her part with confidence and strength.
Although I always loved to sing, sight-reading did not come easily. In a college choir, when asked to switch teams and sing alto, I often struggled to find my part in the unfamiliar music. However, once we started singing the well-known hymns of my youth, I found I could sing even the most complicated measures with ease. All I had to do was imagine my mother sitting beside me, listen to her strong voice and follow her lead.
Mom never set out to teach me to sing alto. In fact, she always encouraged me to sing my own song and smiled when our individual melodies joined in balanced harmony. But now that I'm singing many years later and many miles away, I find myself straining to hear her voice.
And hoping my song echoes hers.