Angel Song: A Tribute to My Mother

mauve roses #2 - Version 2              Betty Hale Sigmon: 1927-2014.

We had mom to thank for her lovely memorial service last Friday—she planned it herself and left detailed notes. She asked for a vase of mauve roses on the piano, then warned: “Be sure to put a coaster or cloth under the vase to protect the wood.”

Pure Mom. As my sister, Ellen, and I surveyed the preparations, I checked to be sure the cloth was there. It was. I looked up and smiled. “OK, Mom, you can rest easy now; the finish on the piano is safe.”

Faith hope loveMom asked that, at her memorial service, I read the cherished Bible text I Corinthians, Chapter 13, one of the most elegant passages in literature about the power of love. It speaks very personally to me of the love my mother had for the church, for her extended family, for my sister and me, and especially for our Dad. I think it also speaks to her love of music, one of her greatest gifts.

A few days ago, I was chatting with one of mom’s best friends about the music for her memorial. “Well, you know, she was a bit of a perfectionist.” Oh, yes. Most infuriating to my sister and me, as Mom constantly thought ahead, considering the tiny details, making notes—whether of a musical performance, a Girl Scout Cookie sale, a vacation, or wedding—even her own funeral—she was usually right.

When I tMom Christmas 1964hink about our mother, what she lived for, and what made her happy, I think of three things: family, music, and church, often all at the same time.

I could talk about how she loved family parties with the dining room done up for the occasion. Or how she lead Girl Scout camping trips and chorale groups. Or how, in our pre-teen years she hauled us, and our friends, everywhere because the other mothers were too busy.

But, like many of her friends, when I think of Mom, it’s her music that plays in my head.

She was a gifted pianist and contralto vocalist. Wherever we lived, she was involved in our church’s music, as a choir member, soloist, pianist, bell-ringer, and director of children’s choirs.

One of my most magical memories, when I was about seven years old, is of sitting in a darkened sanctuary one Christmas season, entranced by her solo of “O Holy Night.” I was convinced she was an angel…

Until the next week, when she really put me through my paces at piano practice trying to make up for my holiday slacking. Well, maybe she just sings like an angel, I thought.

As herMom at erlectric piano voice aged, she resisted singing in public. But she still sang—beautifully—for the family, especially at Christmas, her signature carol, “Come to the Stable.”

In one of my last memories of her, two weeks before she died, she sat at her piano playing a hymn and singing silently along.

Mom & Dad sing xmas 96 220AP


Now she’s singing with the angels. And I bet she’s got her pitch pipe to make sure they stay in key. Daddy’s sitting in the congregation smiling up at her, like always. There they are, together, forever.

God bless, we love you both.