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Heaven's Music: The Voice of an Angel

Only upon her passing did contributing editor Rick Hamlin understand the gifts given to his friend's mother.

By Rick Hamlin, New York, New York

As appeared in

Charley was one of my closest pals in college. We sang in a small, all-male, close-harmony group, and his mom, Mrs. Osborn, was one of our biggest fans.

“Mom studied voice at Juilliard,” Charley used to remind us, a fact that barely registered with me. When you’re 20 years old, what some parent did when they were 20 years old seems like ancient history.

Charley and I kept up over the years. Then in his forties he died of ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease. Mrs. Osborn lived close by and seemed to deal with her sorrow by helping her daughter-in-law raise Charley’s four kids for a dozen years.

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Charley’s mother recently died at the age of 94, listening to the “Pie Jesu” from the Fauré Requiem. At her memorial her children and grandchildren sang, but I noticed from the program that the “Pie Jesu” was scheduled. Who would sing that?

Someone flicked a switch, and a recording that had been made many years earlier was heard, the singer’s voice pure and true.

It was Mrs. Osborn herself, sounding like an angel. I closed my eyes and pictured her singing in harmony with Charley, side by side in heaven’s choir.


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