In Looking West, I write about my mother’s trailblazing. She was a leader in the women’s movement for the independence of Lebanon in 1943, as well as helped establish the first Kindergarten in Lebanon. I describe how she proudly drove our first family car and was the first woman driver in Lebanon and likely in the entire Arab world.
What I didn’t mention in my memoir was Lily Badre’s love for singing and music. My mother came from a musically gifted family starting with her father, my Grandfather Habib. The playing-the-piano-by-ear talent was handed down to my mother, her brother, Kahlo Fouad, and several of my cousins, as well as to my son, David, who plays several instruments. (See photo with my cousin Habib on the piano and David on the guitar). My grandchildren, Shawn and James, are starting to show the same piano and music talents.
Mom made music and singing part of our daily lives. At home, the piano was a prominent fixture in the living room coming alive whenever my mom sat to play. She would play a tune on the piano inviting all those present to accompany her in singing. Whenever we had large extended family gatherings she would lead sing-alongs. When our family took car trips, both in Lebanon and the United States, she would lead us in traditional songs like Church in the Wildwood, Isle of Capri, Just Before the Battle Mother, and Que Sera, Sera. After we immigrated, as the folk songs craze took off in the sixties and early seventies, my mother lead the singing both on the piano and in the car with songs such as If I Had a Hammer, Where Have All the Flowers Gone, Blowing in the Wind,and Those were the Days my Friend. Mom made sure that in every session of sing-alongs, we would also sing popular Lebanese songs such as Aatini al Nay wa ghanni, Bint el shalabiya, Abdo Habib Ghandoura.She knew by heart the words to both American songs and many Lebanese songs by Fairuz and other artists.
My mother continued to play the piano and sing until a few month before her death at the age of 103. The blog photo shows her playing the piano and singing The Red River Valley.