“Can’t you help me?”, Liam’s wife asked looking up at him. Tears rolled down his cheek. He wanted to help her, but he knew there was nothing he could do. It was her moment of clarity; one of her few ones. She was suffering from dementia. He lovingly rubbed his wife on the back. “I love you, Maria”, he said. It was the best and the only response he could give. “Will you dance with me?”, he asked her, hoping it would sooth her pain and knowing he needed it just as much as she did. “Yeah”, she said without much emotion. He picked up the stereo remote from the table in front of her and turned on a song he hoped she would remember. “Let me help you get up”, Liam said as he put his hand on her lower back and gently gave her a little push, using his other hand to hold hers. “Will you take this dance?”, he asked to make sure she still wanted to dance. “I’d love to”, she said as her eyes lit up while hearing the song play, ♪When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore.♫
Dean Martin was playing. It was cheesy, but that’s the song he played when he proposed to her. He had requested the day off, so that he could decorate the dining table and bake a pizza from scratch. When she came back from work, the lights were off and candles lit the way to the dining table. Liam had been waiting for her, peeking through the curtains, so he could serve the pizza as hot as possible. “Liam, honey, where are you?”, she asked. “Right here in the living room, dear.” He was cutting the pizza hastily. When she came around the corner, he had just finished cutting it and he offered her a seat, “Here, let me get that seat for you.” He pulled back her seat and started the music. “Would you like a slice?”, he asked walking back to the table. “Yes, please!”, she responded, “It smells so good! Did you make this?” The timing could not have been any more perfect. Liam sang along as Dean Martin seemed to respond to her question, ♪That’s amore!♫ Maria gave him the most loving smile. It was love indeed. Liam had gotten the recipe from a local pizzeria, along with their blessings. It was different baking it at home, he was told, but it would still come out great. He had practiced the recipe at a friend’s house until he had mastered it. “Business” is what he had said he was doing there. His friend would have covered for him if necessary, but his then girlfriend never questioned Liam. “Perfect!”, Liam’s friend said when he tasted the eleventh pizza. Maria’s was the twelfth. Maria had started eating and her face expressed great pleasure. Liam took a bite as well, hoping she wasn’t on to him yet and that he could surprise her with the engagement ring, but he had to hurry, because the next line was coming up. He silently took the velvet ring box out his pocket and presented it just in time for the next line, ♪Bells will ring, ting-a-ling-a-ling. Ting-a-ling-a-ling and you’ll sing, “Vita bella”.♫ “Will you marry me?”, he asked. She waited for the “pasta fazool” cue that was coming up. He laughed when he realized what she was doing. ♪That’s amore!♫, Maria sang along with the song. “Of course I will!”, she said and got up to give him a firm hug and a kiss. Liam put the ring on her finger. “It’s beautiful”, she said. It wasn’t the most expensive one he could find, but he wanted to be careful with money and she clearly accepted it wholly. “What about my pizza?”, he joked and held up a slice up to her mouth. ♪That’s amore!♫, she sang and took a bite. They shared a few bites before he got up and asked, “Will you take this dance?” “I’d love to!”, she responded, answered by Dean Martin singing, ♪Lucky fella♫.
Maria, now 76, swayed along to the music together with Liam. He hadn’t seen her so alive in years. Her eyes were glistening; something he’d love to see again. For once, she wasn’t forgetting things. She was even singing along every “That’s amore” she heard. When the music stopped, she asked him, “Where’s the pizza?” He hadn’t anticipated that, but he answered with, “Let’s go to our local pizzeria. They’re the ones I’ve got the recipe from”. “Yours is better”, she answered with a smile. It was almost as if music had cured her for a bit. He asked at the restaurant if they could play their song and they would. “It’s our pleasure”, the fourth owner said. Every day since, Liam made pizza and played the song until her very last day. Even during her funeral service it sounded, ♪That’s amore!♫ Although many were surprised, most smiled upon hearing this music. Liam was crying throughout most of the song, but he had to agree when Dean Martin sang, ♪Lucky fella♫.
Copyright ©2015 Didier Strijdonk