For as long as I can remember, music has been a big part of my life. Growing up, our family was very musical. My Dad was the “song leader” at church and our family often did special music – either singing or playing instruments together. Both of my grandmas were very musical as well. One of my favorite days of the week was Sunday because that was the day I’d get to sit between my Grandma Grace and Grandpa Carl in church and we’d each sing harmony parts together. There was something about hearing all those notes blended together that touched me at the very core of my being.
As I grew older, music was still something I loved, but I don’t think I realized just how important it was to me until our daughter, Peyton Grace, was born in 2004. Peyton faces some neurological/motor planning challenges due to an injury at birth. She truly is a remarkable gift from the Lord. As we’ve worked through the past 7 years, there’s been one common theme that has helped in Peyton’s rehabilitation – music. Even as an infant, Peyton would come alive to the sound of music. And after 6+ years of intense therapy, there is still one strategy that always helps things “click” in her brain. If you want Peyton to learn something, put it to music.
I remember back when I first found out I was pregnant with Peyton, we didn’t know what we were having, but I knew that if we had a girl I wanted her middle name to be after Grandma (Grace). Peyton Grace. Little did I know the day she was born the special connection her and Great Grandma Grace would have. Watching Grandma interact with Peyton and sing her the same songs she sang to me as a little girl made my heart smile. And even though we lived 12 hours apart, they were like two peas in a pod any time we were together. Last spring, my Grandma’s health took a turn for the worse. Thankfully, Peyton and I had a chance to make the 12-hour trip down to see her over Easter weekend. Grandma was completely bed ridden when we arrived. That didn’t stop Peyton, though. She climbed right up in to bed with Grandma and that’s where she stayed the entire weekend. Petyon and Grandma spent hours talking about how Grandma was going to heaven. They rested together, watched TV together, and of course, sang together. It was bittersweet to see them snuggled up in bed, with Grandma singing “I Have Decided To Follow Jesus” to Peyton, a song we sang together when I was young. When we got ready to leave to begin our trip back home, Peyton crawled up next to Grandma Grace, hugged her and said enthusiastically, “See you in heaven!”.
Several months have passed since Grandma Grace went to be with Jesus, and there isn’t a day that goes by where Peyton doesn’t talk about her. Last week I went to pick Peyton up from school for a therapy appointment.
When she stopped singing, everyone in the office stood up and started clapping. I stood there holding back tears. The receptionist said to Peyton, “We all know you love Jesus – thanks for singing to us!”
As we drove to therapy, I was completely overwhelmed thinking that my sweet little girl with special needs who struggles to verbally express her simple thoughts had just witnessed to a group of people through MUSIC. Sure, she may be difficult to understand when she speaks, and yes, she is a quirky little girl that many people don’t “get”,