Many people believe that we don’t have memories at age 2 and 3. But we do. In many cases, just fragments, but, for example, Yo-Yo Ma could play the violin at age 3 and switched to cello at 4. I had a violin student once who could play Bach at 3.

Two songs that Kay Wheeler learned when she was little – “Powder Your Face With Sunshine” and “Look for the Silver Lining” – have been good to keep in mind in tough situations, she says. Photo courtesy of Kay Wheeler

At the age of 4½, I was adopted from an orphanage, I was a mostly cheerful little kid but now and then would drop into deep sadness. No one knew why but there it was. My new mom was one smart cookie and when the sadness came, she would look at me and begin to sing. First it was “Baa Baa Black Sheep,” then “Twinkle,” etc.

Then, this new song came along. She would get my attention by patting her cheek as if she were putting on powder. Then, she would begin to sing. “Powder your face with sunshine. Put on a great big smile. Make up your eyes with laughter. We’ll be laughing with you in a little while.” This song was written by Carmen Lombardo and Stanley Rochinski. I would begin to sing with her. And later, all she had to do was give me the powder signal and I would burst into song.

One afternoon, when I was 6 or 7 and feeling blue, my mom saw me sitting and staring at the wall. We had no TV then but we had a beautiful Philco floor radio. The radio began to play “Look for the Silver Lining.” The music was written by Jerome Kern and the words by Bud De Silva in 1920. I had never heard it before but my mom had. Suddenly she appears in the room, signals me to listen and she bursts into song along with the radio. I can remember the feeling of joy and sunshine that I felt.

I’m 80 years old now and realize that throughout my life I have used those two songs to cheer me up. My life has not been perfect and there have been some rough spots along the way. However; those two songs were my personal therapist, right there with me all the time. This holiday season is not especially easy right now with the quarantine. I can’t see my children or my grandchildren for any celebrations this year. There is no book club, no writing group, no P.E.O., no church choir, no bluegrass and on and on. But I will survive because my face is powdered with sunshine and I can always see the “Silver Lining.” In fact, if I get up right now and walk into my music room, guess what song is sitting right there on the piano? You guessed it!

For all these years, I have looked for the silver lining. I know that out there the sun is shining … and now to make it shine for me. I kept my heart full of joy and gladness and banished sadness and strife. And if you “Look for the Silver Lining,” you will find the sunny side of life.