This story first appeared 09.04.11 in the Saturday Guardian Family Section – Playlist
Song: You Are My Sunshine by Max Bygraves
“You make me happy when skies are grey / You’ll never know, dear, how much I love you / Please don’t take my sunshine away”
By Wendy Pike
You Are My Sunshine was close to my Nan’s heart and it was no surprise that it turned up while I was helping to clear out her home of 70 years, after she was taken into residential care.
Among almost 10 decades of accumulated belongings was Nan’s portable Sony cassette recorder, in showroom condition. I didn’t have the heart to throw it away. “Not more junk!” my husband cried when I got home. “What do you want with that old relic?”
I wasn’t sure myself, except it was too good to chuck.
Inside was a tape, bringing on more grumbling from himself when we discovered we were also the proud owners of Singalong with Max Bygraves.
The second song on side one is You Are My Sunshine. I can picture Nan sitting in virtual darkness of a winter’s afternoon, with her coal fire roaring away in the grate, a cup of tea by her side, apron on as always, slippered feet up in her comfy chair, listening to Max Bygraves belting out songs from that era – her kind of music.
Her face would light up to this track. It reminded her of my older cousin Johnny, returning to the UK after my Uncle’s overseas army tour. Once, when I was a toddler, Johnny gave a tear-jerking rendition of You Are My Sunshine, singing it especially for nan. It became a family legend immediately.
Latterly Nan’s hearing deteriorated. For some years it wasn’t great, as she didn’t get on with the hearing aids she was fitted with. At Christmas we would treat Nan to a fish and chip supper, which she always tucked away with gusto. Afterwards, my daughter would perform a solo mini-concert on the clarinet, which, oddly, Nan could always hear clearly.
When asked if she had any requests for an encore, you guessed it … For Nan it was You Are My Sunshine every time. It came with a lump in the throat as standard for me, and the appearance of Nan’s white cotton hanky to mop up her rarely seen, overflowing emotions. Wendy Pike