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Songs of Remembrance: Renee Hebert enjoyed playing 'Clair de Lune' on the piano

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

More than 1 million people have died in this country from COVID-19. NPR is remembering some of those who lost their lives by listening to the music they loved and hearing their stories. Marjorie Zien remembers her mother, Renee Hebert. She died of COVID in 2020. She was 89 years old.

MARJORIE ZIEN: My name is Marjorie Zien. I am from New York City, Greenwich Village. And my mother was Renee Hebert.

(SOUNDBITE OF PETER SCHMALFUSS PERFORMANCE OF CLAUDE DEBUSSY'S "SUITE BERGAMASQUE: III. CLAIR DE LUNE")

ZIEN: She took piano lessons as a kid, and whenever she sat down on the piano to show off, it was always "Clair De Lune."

(SOUNDBITE OF PETER SCHMALFUSS PERFORMANCE OF CLAUDE DEBUSSY'S "SUITE BERGAMASQUE: III. CLAIR DE LUNE")

ZIEN: You know, we never asked her, why always "Clair De Lune"? I mean, we had the sheet music and the piano bench, and we had some other sheet music, too, but that one song and - we just heard it so many times growing up.

(SOUNDBITE OF PETER SCHMALFUSS PERFORMANCE OF CLAUDE DEBUSSY'S "SUITE BERGAMASQUE: III. CLAIR DE LUNE")

ZIEN: My mother - well, my mother was a character. I mean, she was a good mom. She spoke her mind. She was opinionated. You know, she was a strong, tough lady.

(SOUNDBITE OF PETER SCHMALFUSS PERFORMANCE OF CLAUDE DEBUSSY'S "SUITE BERGAMASQUE: III. CLAIR DE LUNE")

ZIEN: She was a rep for the phone company. Because she had access to people's phone records, whenever I dated anybody, she checked to see if they paid their bills on time.

(SOUNDBITE OF PETER SCHMALFUSS PERFORMANCE OF CLAUDE DEBUSSY'S "SUITE BERGAMASQUE: III. CLAIR DE LUNE")

ZIEN: She was tough. I mean, she never let on that she was unhappy, that things were hard, that she was worried. She just persevered and did what she had to do and did a good job.

(SOUNDBITE OF PETER SCHMALFUSS PERFORMANCE OF CLAUDE DEBUSSY'S "SUITE BERGAMASQUE: III. CLAIR DE LUNE")

MARTIN: That was Marjorie Zien remembering her mother, Renee Hebert.

(SOUNDBITE OF PETER SCHMALFUSS PERFORMANCE OF CLAUDE DEBUSSY'S "SUITE BERGAMASQUE: III. CLAIR DE LUNE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.