My mom listened to ABBA quite a bit when I was growing up. I can still picture me lying on her bed when I was a kid as she ironed shirts in her bedroom, listening to her sing along to one of her ABBA CDs as it spun in her CD player.
Over time, I came to like ABBA too, though I preferred covers over the original tracks. In Junior High, it was Erasure’s “ABBA-Esque”; in college, I discovered the A*Teens and usually listened to something off of “The ABBA Generation” whenever the mood to listen to the likes of Gimme Gimme Gimme or Lay All Your Love On Me struck.
On my wedding day, my mom and I danced to Dancing Queen. She didn’t know I had chosen this song for us until it started playing and she had a good laugh when she heard it. We had never discussed our mutual fondness for ABBA but I think she knew that I liked their music in large part because of her.
Not even a minute into the song, I started crying, which of course made my mom cry. I remember telling her that I was sorry over and over again and she kept saying it was okay even though I don’t think she really knew what I was apologizing for.
Those memories of my younger self listening to ABBA with my mom surfaced as we danced at my wedding reception and I kept thinking that those days were gone now. Genesis 24 says: “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife…” and as we danced, I sensed that I was leaving my mother, that what I was feeling in that moment was exactly what God had in mind when he wrote that verse.
And I was sorry that I was leaving her, sorry that I had changed everything, sorry that I was no longer that little boy listening to my mom sing along with Agnetha Faltskog and Anni-Frid Lynstad: You can dance, you can jive, having the time of your life…
Today, while driving my son to my mom’s, he asked me if we could listen to Voulez Vous. He had heard it play in the car a few times in the past but he had never asked to listen to that song specifically until this afternoon. I hesitated because I wasn’t sure if the song was appropriate for him but then figured he had probably already heard much worse by now. I found the A*Teens cover on my iPod.
“Do you like this song, buddy?” I asked as it started to play.
After the song ended, he asked me to play it one more time. “This is one of my mom’s favorite songs,” I said as I queued it up again. I pictured him and my mom listening to ABBA together like she and I used to years ago. “You should tell her you like this song.” Maybe they will bond over ABBA some day.
“I don’t want to.” Or maybe not.
“Okay,” I said.
Neither of us said a word for the rest of the drive. We just listened to the voices of the new ABBA Generation as we made our way to see my mom.