One thing you need to know about my mother is that she loved music ... and she loved to dance. At my house she found KFOG, a wonderful San Francisco FM station that, at that time, played only the big bands... Tommy Dorsey, Bennie Goodman. I couldn't pry her away from the radio. On New Year's Eve we went to a vespers service at an Episcopal church and then a miracle happened. I took her to the New Bell Saloon on Polk Street where we spent the evening sitting at the incredible David Keley's piano/organ bar. Surrounded by capacity crowds of gay men who filled the bar, many her own age, she began to smile and truly enjoy herself for the first time since she arrived. Everyone loved her and waiters brought complimentary cocktails sent by her admirers. David kept asking her what songs she wanted to hear and played only things she requested all night long. Her favorite that he played was "The Man I Love".
At midnight the bartenders started the huge faux-gas chandeliers above the bar swinging as David played San Francisco and sang along in his best Jeanette MacDonald falsetto - we all joined in. It was magic and I had never seen my mother enjoy herself more. By 1980 my Mom was gone too. And now, David's organ and piano sit silent too...but the memories of a Christmas filled with love and music and happiness, even though they come through tears, comforts me still.