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Cousins put together virtual musical tribute honoring late grandma as a way to grieve together

After the pandemic made it impossible for them to come together as a family to mourn the sudden death of their beloved grandmother, these cousins came up with a heartwarming way to honor her.

Cousins put together virtual musical tribute honoring late grandma as a way to grieve together
Cover Image Source: YouTube/Francis Nowalk

For weeks now, the pandemic has kept loved ones away from each other. It has forced us to reimagine our pre-pandemic lives and find their closest alternatives as a means to cope and get through this difficult phase with our sanities intact. However, for a group of cousins, nothing could even come close to actually seeing their grandmother or being by her side in her final moments. Unfortunately, they were robbed of that chance when social distancing measures made it impossible for them to visit her or come together as a family to mourn her sudden passing on April 11.



According to Good Morning America, Tess Nowalk—who suddenly passed away last month—left behind six children, 20 grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren, and her husband of 69 years. Her beloved family members were utterly devastated by her sudden passing and the fact that they couldn't come together as a family to process their grief made it even worse. However, they were determined to honor Nowalk even if it meant they had to do it virtually. Thus one of her grandchildren, Katelyn Best, took it upon herself to orchestrate an epic tribute for their beloved grandma.

Image Source: YouTube/Francis Nowalk

"After hearing the news, I called one of my sisters to figure out how during this time of quarantine, we could celebrate and honor our grandmother's memory -- to be present during her funeral, from a distance but together as family," Best revealed. She explained that music has always been an integral part of their family and that a number of family gatherings have been marked by them singing around a piano. Her sister, Anne Drysdale, then came up with a plan to have all the cousins sing a rendition of Nowalk's favorite song "Moon River" and combine it all together to form one beautiful group performance like the ones around the piano.

With a plan in mind, Best reached out to cousin Rob McKinnie who is a trained piano player, asking him to record a version of the song on the piano. She also sent out emails to all the other cousins, informing them of the tribute and urging them to join in however possible. "While we are all apart during this time, we can all still celebrate the wonderful memory of our grandmother through music," she said. "If you are interested in participating, please video record yourself singing along to the track and reply to this thread."

Image Source: YouTube/Francis Nowalk

The cousins rose to the occasion without hesitation and recorded themselves singing the song as instructed and sent the clips to Best. One cousin even recorded a violin version of the song which added one more layer to the final product that Best created by editing all the videos together. Although she spent hours and hours editing all their clips together, the final musical tribute turned out to be hauntingly beautiful and undoubtedly something their late grandmother would've been proud of.

Cover Image Source: YouTube/Francis Nowalk

"[It] could not have been completed without the efforts of all of my cousins. Together we represent the beautiful legacy of our grandparents as well as the power of music to comfort during this time of separation. While physically apart, this recording allowed our voices to ring out together in unison," said Best. She added that she hopes her family’s musical tribute "can touch people’s hearts and offer comfort and togetherness in a time separation."


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