Donna Summer was a defining force in my childhood. Most Saturdays, around mid to late morning, my mom would pull out her favorite record and blast in through the house. We'd all bop around singing to the music as we did our chores or relaxed in our rooms, until a song would come on that we'd be so excited by that we might even meet in the front hall and have a little family dance off. For real. This was the 70's, and it was very hard to resist the energy of disco music. Abba and early Michael Jackson were two of my mom's favorites, but no one topped Donna Summer. She played that record over an over for months, even years, on end. I know every word to every song. And over the ensuing years nothing could bring back the memories of those happy family moments like a Donna Summer song.
Then in 2005 I was a mom myself to two young children, ages 2 and 4. I was thrilled and proud to be a mom but they were trying times as I was struggling to balance being a good wife, a good mother and a hard-working career girl. In the fall of that year, my husband and I were invited to a weekend of festivities in Milan to celebrate Dolce and Gabbana's 10th anniversary. We nearly didn't go as it meant missing our 2 year old's birthday, but we decided he would never know the difference if we celebrated it a few days later, and we felt it was important to get away and have some fun together. We were already having a great time at the big party when it was announced that the surprise guest would now be performing. I knew from the first few bars of music and before she even came out on stage that it was Donna Summer's Love to Love You Baby. I had never understood why people cried at concerts, but now I was bawling. I called my mom and made her listen to the first song with me over the phone. I danced and sang to every single word of every song until she was done. It was one of the best nights of my life. Donna Summer came back reappeared at just the right moment to remind me how to use music to have fun with my family and let off steam. I will miss her presence in this world.