In 1974, Black Sabbath released a song called, “Changes,” written by the band about drummer Bill Ward’s divorce. In 2016, this song was covered and became the title of Charles Bradley’s last album. It was this cover that I came across last night.
For me, the song really resonated as I listened and thought of my mother. The lyrics spoke so strongly to the type of relationship we’ve had over the past few years:
It took so long
That I can still hear her
Now all my days
Are filled with tears
Wish I could go back
And change these years
There is so much grief and guilt and remorse that I feel in the wake of my mother’s passing. So many things that I wish were different. So many things that I am glad stayed the same. So many things that are coming to light, dimming and confusing the relationship I thought I had with her, blurring the part of my mother I thought I knew.
I sang this song and thought of my mother, feeling some small tether to her spirit in the afterlife. Like Bradley, this song will be my anthem to Cynthia Scott, the song that tears at my heart and grips my soul when I think of her and miss her beyond reason, beyond anything I can ever express out loud.
The last time I spoke with my mom, she was in the hospital because she had an accident. She seemed prideful and stubborn on the phone, not because she was mad at me, but because she was embarrassed. Our phone call two days prior to this one had been one of joy and exaltation: the tumor in her liver had gone down almost completely and her dialysis for her kidneys was going well. She was getting stronger each day, and she was revitalizing her zest for life and a return to normalcy.
And then she fell.
When we spoke that day, I could hear the lost hope in her voice, feel it vibrating through me. Mom was giving up. I tried to console her, talk to her, find out what happened, what she needed, but she refused to talk to me. She didn’t want to talk to me in that state. I told her I loved her, and I would talk to her soon.
The last time I heard my mother on the phone, it was an accident. She called me without realizing and though I called out to her so we could talk, she didn’t hear me. She didn’t pick up. I heard the shuffling and shifting and crunching of things around her in the hospital room, and after ten minutes or so, I hung up, thinking to call her in the morning.
She stopped returning my calls. She stopped responding to my texts. And then she died the day before I arrived back home.