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|R.I.P. Alison Abraham, 1957-2020|
Alison Abraham passed away on the 18th August, 9am, NZT. This fact might seem inconsequential, or even trivial, but: she was my mother, and so it's tremendously consequential to me. Let this list stand as a commemoration and celebration of her musical taste and influence on me / death is real, and it’s not for writing lists about,
Tea for the Tillerman
We begin with Cat Stevens: allegedly, he was playing on the radio while my Dad was frantically driving to the hospital with my Mum, in labour, and was also playing at the hospital room my Mum gave birth (well, had a C-Section; I came out the wrong way, a habit I’ve continued all my life). Mum always attributed my love of Cat Stevens to my *very* early exposure to him; not, of course, that I needed an excuse.
I remember at the age of 5 trawling through my Mums record collection and being absolutely mesmerized: on my sixth birthday I specifically asked to listen to this, not because I understood the music but because I was enthralled by the way the Atlantic logo swirled on the record player in hues of green and red, the way the needle progressed along the vinyl, the way the needle fell so neatly onto the black crackle.
Close to the Edge
I loved the fold-out of this
The Yes Album
And the cover of this
A Quick One
The Polydor logo, while inferior to the Atlantic one, had its own charms imbued in the embossed red
…My Mum had really good music taste in the 1970s that she bequeathed to me what can I say.
Some albums, like this one, were so indelibly etched into my memory from an early age that I recognised every note when I was cognizant of listening to them. I suspect I know the culprit responsible.
...and this one too.
Yo! Bum Rush the Show
Our tastes didn’t always gel, and the music I blasted obnoxiously loudly as a mopey adolescent was met with disapprobation: I noted the conspicuous absence of this when I left home for uni and returned for the first time.
This one is probably strewn among the detritus of the garbage dump too.
|12||The Jesus Lizard|
…That said, once, when I was home and came back from doing some shopping, I heard her listening to this while doing some housework. She looked at me like a teenager caught smoking a cigarette and said sheepishly and defensively “I like the guitar”. Me too Mum. Me too.
|13||Florence and the Machine|
She attended live shows with me or my brother as often as she could if she liked what she’d heard
Carrie and Lowell Live
Savouring the precious moments
Sleep Well Beast
Rocking out to Squalor Victoria with the best of them: My Mum.
|16||David Thomas Broughton|
The Complete Guide to Insufficiency
Funnily enough in my will I have links to home-made recordings of me covering Ambiguity, because she loved nothing more than to hear me noodle on the guitar while she pottered in the background
Blood on the Tracks
and Buckets of Rain
A Crow Looked At Me
How do we conceive of death? I see it as something twisted, certainly, but not mangled, rather knotted: the roots of a boughed old oak.
|19||36 and Zake|
Stasis Sounds For Long-Distance...
Memories suffuse and flicker like the irradiance of the sun casting through gaps in the leaves
Playing Hide-and-Seek, me and my brother giggling furiously while Mum said in an ostentatiously, comically loud voice “WHERE ARE YOU” about a meter from where me and my brother were hiding, before picking me up and hugging me, spinning me around, her smile big and warm
Nina Simone at Newport
Road-trips to the small town she was born in, dissecting the latest season of Survivor, stopping for ice-cream at Taihape on the way
Routes Not Roots
Eating lemons in the same way most people eat oranges, a peculiarity we both shared, on deck chairs in our back garden when I was 8.
|23||Sun Kil Moon|
Seeing Sun Kil Moon with her and in an act of kismet he played “I can’t live without my mother’s love” – me, my brother and her all found each other in the throng and holding hands, me so proud that my Mum would come out and see him with us
Low Frequency Observed at Maguchi Bay
Our walks along Takapuna Beach, just the two of us, talking about nothing much, arm-in-arm, keeping to her pace
Until she couldn’t walk unassisted anymore, so me or Dad would drive her to the waterfront and look at the waves cresting in and out, just so she could be in her special place
Carrie and Lowell
She will never again feature in any future family photos, any Christmas celebrations, or birthdays. This year she was too fatigued to even txt me on my birthday, but I’d hoped that next year… Now, she is suspended in time, fixed at a temporal point, while the rest of us must live on.
|27||Toshimaru Nakamura and Martin Taxt|
Listening to the Footsteps of Living Ones....
I will never hear her footsteps in the house again, or hear her greeting of “Hola Felipe” that she uttered whenever I returned home, no matter what the hour and no matter how fucked up I was.
Through the Windowpane
Similarly, she never got to hear the pitter-patter of Grandchildren’s footsteps grace her house, despite having Grandchildren being her greatest desire.
Meet The Shits 781 Song Demo
I didn’t always acquit or comport myself as a son to anyone’s satisfaction, and was sometimes derelict in duty, but I tried Mum, I promise I always tried.
Microphones in 2020
I got to spend the last day of her life, before she died, with her. I held her warm hand in the hospice room and talked to her and tried not to cry. She was in and out of lucidity at this point, but I know she knew I was there part of the time – her final words to me are too sacred, too special, to divulge here – but I hope she knew I was there and with her all day, and anyone who wants to disabuse me of this notion can fuck off.
In accordance with the Maori tradition, her body was never left unattended (except when I had to go for a cig or replenish drug intake – sorry Mum!) and we kept her at my Aunt and Uncle’s place, all of the close relatives having a chance to speak our peace to the body alone. I put a book she’d wanted to read but hadn’t the concentration to thanks to oxy, one of my favourite soft toys to look after her, and an angel to put on her shoulder in the casket.
|32||Ana Hato and Deane Waretini|
The Great Songs of Ana Hato and Deane Waretini
When the time came, the night before the funeral, her kaumatua and vicar came around and after blessing the body commanded “haere, haere, haere” (“Go, go, go”). I’m prone to embellishing, but in this instance I’m not: the wind picked up so much it shook the house, guiding her wairua (spirit) to 90-mile beach and eventually her final destination on the Cape. We shut the lid on the coffin forever. The funeral the day afterwards, while not an afterthought, was more a formality. She was already on her journey.
The dead speak: the living just aren’t very good at listening. So when I need to speak to Mum or hear her I’ll go to Takapuna Beach on a windy day and commune with her and listen to the tides ebb and flow, like breaths, like Mums breathing was before it had to be assisted.
My beloved Mum, my precious Mum, my longest friend and greatest supporter: I am proud, so proud, to have been your son. I adore you and will always adore you, and even when the grieving period recedes, as it inevitably must, I will always, always miss you: I’ll see you again when my time comes, and our spirits meet at the final resting place at Cape Reinga. I love you.
|I would say this will be the last time Sade appears on one of my lists but we all know that wouldn't be true|
|Jesus dude, your mother sounded like a gem, sorry for your loss|
|thank you Jac < 3 hope things are well on your side of the antipodes!!!|
|My condolences Wines. I lost my mum last year's September. We lived so far from each other that I didn't even make it to the funeral. Never got to say goodbye. I know you are going through hell,and you will forever, but it gets a bit better with time. |
Best wishes brother, stay strong.
|My condolences to you and yours at this time, my man.|
|Your mum sounded like an awesome lady|
|Yes, your mum sounds incredible. I love you Wines. Beautiful. |
|1. Your mom had incredible taste|
2. I'm sorry for your loss
|a beautiful soul|
|Beautiful, stirring words - never thought I'd read something so moving within the format of a sputnik list. Sorry for your loss, Wines - you did your mum proud with this|
|I’m so sorry for your loss. This list is one of the most gorgeous things I’ve ever read on this entire site in my near decade of being here. She seems like an incredible person with an absolutely amazing taste. I hope she’s in peace In the next realm, and I hope that you are as well. |
|Sorry for your loss. Nice tribute|
|I am very sorry, Wines. That was a beautiful tribute. I lost my dad in 2018 to cancer, and I was very close to him. |
|really beautiful tribute, your mom sounds wonderful. i'm sorry for your loss|
|Beautiful respects here that you pay to your mother. My deepest condolences to you and her loved ones... you made me want to give my mother a big hug and tell her I love her. Thank you|
|im so sorry. |
|i can’t even man i’m sorry for your loss|
|So sorry for your loss buddy |
|I'm really sorry for your loss buddy, she had an awesome taste. I bet she was a fantastic person|
|I love you P|
|Condolences, these are some beautiful words|
|This is beautiful Phil, your mom seemed like such a wonderful soul. I'm sure she was proud of you and thinking of you always. I love you brother, I'm so sorry for your loss|
|Sending you all the best during these troubling times. My condolences to you and your family.|
|Damn. Gotta go hug my mom now....|
|Thank you all so, so much for the outpouring of aroha, it's appreciated tremendously. My commiserations and condolences to all of those who have found themselves in a similar position: I hope all of you found some closure in your grief. It's worth saying that Mum would have dearly loved taking care of her boys, her idiot boys, her recalcitrant boys, her beautiful boys, but we're supporting each other and getting through as best we can. ANYWAY : " ) bless all of you for your support < 3|
|Beautiful list. Sending you my deepest condolences and best wishes.|
|Ngl I shed a couple tears. Take that as solidarity.|
|You’re a good one, Wines. Mama did right. She lives forever. In memory, in song, and in your words. Love, brother.|
|Damn, my condolences. She sounds like a wonderful person. I don't think any words can convey how you must be feeling, but this is a beautiful tribute and you've given all of us with remaining loved ones a reason to give an extra hug or "love you". Hope you're faring okay.|
|i'm so sorry wines. if you ever need to talk to me, i'm here for you man|
|much love and my condolences I’m so sorry. but this is a beautiful tribute, she sounds amazing and so are you|
|Condolences wines. Sounds like you had a special bond with her. Kia kaha my bro. aroha nui|
|Really sorry for your loss. Hit a spot when you called her your longest friend and greatest supporter. |
|I'm very sorry. My deepest condolescenses and I pray the Lord for peace to you and your siblings.|
|thanks lads, hugely appreciated. subsisting on a diet of cigarettes, coffee and Polvo: as good a way to cope with grief as any!|
|sounds like conquering, not coping ! btw, your write for 12 has been stuck in my head ever since I read it - what a wonderful scene and a wonderful album < 3|
|I know! I was delightfully surprised but now I'm in the vaunted position of being able to call The Jesus Lizard Mum-Rock|
|tearing up. this was really touching and beautiful. i am so sorry for your loss. thanks for sharing some memories with us. |
|Just seeing this now - so sorry to hear, my dear Philip. Based on this list and your commemorative thoughts, she seemed like a mighty fine lady. Hope you're hanging in there buddy, and you know I'm always here to take your mind off of things with idle chatter and whatnot. < 3|
|This was a beautiful tribute. I am truly sorry for your loss.|
|So sorry for your loss brother. I know how hard it is. Very lovely tribute |