My musical gifts are all from my mother, who came from a very musical family, and was herself a child prodigy on the piano.
Whenever I wanted piano lessons or any other type of music instruction, she was always quick to make sure it happened. She also let me quit lessons for a few years in my early teens, which was critical in allowing me to develop my own creative style of melody and composition. She purchased a newer and better piano at that time, and that definitely fueled my desire to spend more time on the keys.
My father called mom the most competitive person he had ever met. When they were paired as debate partners in high school, they ended up becoming 5-state champions. She also won her first Minnesota state AAU springboard diving championship when she was 17, and won her last one at a record age 37. In addition, she coached high school diving for over 20 years, and had a number of boys and girls reach the top places in the state championships. As a successful female coach in those days, she had to endure a fair amount of hostility and discrimination, but she persevered through it, and the chauvinists eventually changed their tune, or had to retire.
Mom was finishing up her degree at the University of Minnesota when I was born. She had already been losing interest in becoming an English teacher, and she loved babies. Nonetheless, she remained an avid reader throughout her life. One way she showed her creative side was to add humorous parts when she read stories to me as a child. She did that because I loved it, and I would laugh out loud.
The string quintet that I wrote, mostly in the first few months after my mother had a severe stroke last summer, reflects some of the sadness and hope that I was feeling, both then and now.
Grief is messy, and I am still trying to process my thoughts and memories about my mother. There will be more, but I need to pause right now.
Miss You and Love You, Mom! See You and Dad in Heaven!