• Céline Peterson

Audrey Morris

The following post was written on Nov 12, 2018.

Earlier this year there was a part of me that thought I would be in Chicago right now preparing to celebrate (Aunt) Audrey Morris' 90th birthday with her. Even though I won't be able to give her a hug, I will be hearing her infectious laugh in my head, recounting memories from my youngest days, listening to music, and raising a glass in honour of one of the most remarkable women I've ever had the privilege to know. Audrey was there for me through every milestone in my life. She helped me with my schoolwork while we were in Barbados, gained quite a collection of photos of me during my short-lived time in ballet classes, clocked many hours hanging backstage with me at Ravinia (as did Mervon, Penny, and Shelly), and stayed on the phone with me when (Uncle) Niels Pedersen passed away and I didn't know what to do or how to comfort my dad, and then again when dad was gone and I didn't know how to comfort myself. There are few things I remember of the few weeks that followed his passing, but one was walking through a sea of people unsure of where I was supposed to be and not a single real familiar face in my immediate vicinity, and then out of nowhere I saw Audrey, who took my hand and without saying a word took me to a safe space where we just sat and talked (about not a single thing of relevance) and then at some point ice cream became involved. Audrey was a force. Her ability to deliver a lyric and make you feel as though you were standing right in the middle of whatever story she was telling is and always will be something that every vocalist should study. The reality is, no one will ever do it the way Audrey did. Add to that her immense talent as a pianist and you will have some of the most awe-inspiring musical experiences of your life. Her repertoire was in no way predictable, which made it in every way beautiful. She introduced me to songs I'd not previously heard, while reintroducing me to the few I did know through her interpretations, which often left me feeling like I had transported into a world where nothing else mattered but the music. While Audrey is not nearly as known as she should be, those of us who do know of her artistry can consider ourselves lucky. She was one of the most honest individuals that I have ever heard perform, and that honesty that you can hear through both her voice and her fingers on the keys, is the same honesty that you get from Audrey as an individual. With her honesty came a unique ability to see elements of life that others couldn't. She was a listener and would take in everything that was being said to her and attempt to get to know whomever she was speaking to even if that was the first and only time they were communicating. Her impressions were lasting and even if you only had a few moments with her, you were sure to remember them. Audrey Morris had a sense of humour that could brighten up any room but was also wicked in the best possible way. She was my favourite scheming partner and never failed to make me laugh so hard that I would be gasping for air at least once during every visit. Even our last visits were full of laughter. She was appreciative of every moment that you spent with her. The idea that we choose where to be in our lives and people were choosing to be with her was something that brought her such warmth, and she made sure you knew it. The elegance, grace, humour, kindness, strength, brilliance, savvy, creativity, and generosity of Audrey Morris will never be forgotten. I will forever be immensely grateful to carry the countless memories we shared with me for the rest of my life. Happy 90th birthday, beautiful Audrey. I will love you always. Audrey Morris: November 12th, 1928-April 1st, 2018 Spring will be a little slow to start A little slow reviving music it made in my heart Yes time heals all things, so I needn't cling to this fear It's merely that spring will be a little late this year

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One year later. As I write this, I find myself sitting in the exact same spot that I was last year on this day, staring out the open window with the cold breeze coming through. The difference? Last ye