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Rita Sekirka, 89: Judy Garland's 'Easter Parade'

Rita Sekirka, of St. Louis, Mo., died at the age of 89.
Courtesy of Andrew Crivilare

Updated June 15, 2021 at 1:21 PM ET

More than 600,000 people have died in the U.S. from COVID-19 since the pandemic hit this country and the world just over a year ago. NPR is remembering some of those who lost their lives by listening to the music they loved and hearing their stories. We're calling our tribute Songs Of Remembrance.

In the last decade of her life, my Grandma Rita really loved "Easter Parade" by Irving Berlin. She had dementia and struggled with the basic functions so many of us take for granted. However, if someone put on Judy Garland's "Easter Parade," she would sing ever word. She just seemed so confident singing that song in a way she wasn't in the other parts of her life.

I think about the last time we sang it together. At this point, she was in the nursing home. I'm sure the other residents weren't thrilled at us belting out "Easter Parade." I would play that movie non-stop for my grandma, and she was always so filled with joy. She was such a movie person, so the photo I included was from the last time we went to see a movie together in theaters (La La Land, 2016). —Andrew Crivilare, grandson

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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