The Silver Swan and Her Stroke: First Songs as Last Songs

Kaja Weeks

Abstract


This is a view of a massive stroke followed by rare communications through singing and vocalizations between an elegant lady born by the Baltic Sea almost 100 years ago and her daughter (the author). A reflective true account with story-like narration, it conveys the intersection of a musically rhythmic but "pitch deaf" mother and classically-trained singer daughter at their final crossroads.  The stunning scene of hearing her mother, unable to speak, but singing "with full power and nuance, like a glorious Wagnerian soprano," has the author first considering the extrordinary plasticity of the brain, and then, as a daughter, the poignant meaning of her mother's sounds, who like the Silver Swan, "sung her first and last, and sung no more."

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We wish to acknowledge the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Munk School of Global Affairs, and Mount Sinai Hospital.

Canada Council for the Arts
Munk School of Global Affairs
Mount Sinai Hospital