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My mother’s violin

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Friday, August 11, 2017

I would like to share something with you that is a bit different from my usual hikes. But those of you who have read my blogs for a while know that from time to time, I share something a bit more personal...

My mother, who died last March after several years of a very sad fight against Alzheimer’s, played the violin. She was a very good amateur violinist. As I played the piano, we sometimes played together. I think it will take me a while to be able to listen again to some of the pieces we played together. Time will heal, I know, and one day I will listen to them with delight.

(Johan Sebastian Bach’s Violin Concerto in A minor which we played together when I was about 17... Here is a recording of this piece with a whole orchestra if you want to listen to it:

Late spring, after my father gave me my mother’s violin, I had it estimated. I knew it was a very good instrument, but I wanted to know for sure what a professional would say. It was indeed a very good instrument, from the last part of the 19th century. When I came back from the appointment with the violin maker, I cried all the way back in the car. It had been hard to open the case, to let someone inspect this instrument my mother loved so much. And I just couldn’t leave the violin with him, I couldn’t let him sell it. I knew this wasn’t what I wanted. Money wasn’t the most important. Yet it was hard to know for sure what my mother would have wanted, so I decided to listen to my own heart.

(My mother with her violin playing at church in the late 1980s)

I spoke with my father who agreed for me to do what I felt: I wanted to give the violin to a professional violinist in a developing country, who loved music and would never have been able to afford such a violin. (I was also dreaming that this person would be a good, kind person, but I felt ridiculous thinking that way... how would I ever know?!) - As I work mainly with Africa and the Middle-East (in an international NGO), I started looking in that direction (contacting colleagues, friends working in that area...), especially as my mother grew up in North Africa. But it didn’t lead to anything.

Then I remembered from my trip to Armenia last October...

... that my colleague Arshavir’s daughter, Mariam, is learning the violin at an excellent level. I thought he might have an idea, know of someone who would be a good new owner for the violin. I wrote to him and waited. It took him several days to answer, and then, with his usual sensitivity and finesse, he wrote back explaining that his daughter had just been offered a job as a violinist in the orchestra in Yerevan and that she didn’t actually own a violin... So he would be very grateful if my mother’s violin could go to her.

I cried. I couldn’t believe how amazingly well this was turning. If you believe in God, you will believe, like my mother would have, that God prepared everything.

(Crosses by the roadside in Armenia)

Yesterday morning I took the violin to a close friend of Arshavir who lives near Paris, who will arrange for the violin to be taken to Armenia. I wrote a little note to Mariam that I put with the violin - it took me a while to find the right words! I so hope that this violin will truly be a blessing for her, for her career, for her whole life. What I know for sure, as I know her father and have been told by colleagues and friends, is that she is a very special young woman. And that she will love that violin at least as much as my mother did!

(Yerevan’s Opera, where I had the privilege to attend an outstanding concert last October...)

I wanted to share this story with you as I make my way through this grieving journey... with all its ups and downs. I had a very heavy heart yesterday morning, and it was really hard for part of the day. But last night I felt at peace that my mother’s violin will be in good hands, and, most importantly for me, will continue to live through Mariam’s gifted hands.

Thank you for reading! And thank you for all your lovely words again in my last blog, always very much appreciated even if I don’t write to every one of you! Let me leave you with this beautiful view of the mountains in Northern Armenia, where I took one of my most beautiful walks last year...

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Both you and your Mother have touched this young woman's life to such a marvelous extent. You made exactly the right choice! Blessings on you!
    18 hours ago
    emoticon for your loss. I enjoyed reading your lovely blog. You are blessed to have such beautiful time spent with your Mother. You are very generous and her memory will live on! emoticon for sharing! emoticon emoticon
    1 day ago
    Dear Claire, I know you are grieving and missing your mother and I understand. Mine has been gone for 15 years and I still want to talk with her and feel her arms around me. It must have been with mixed feelings that you gave her violin away...but what a beautiful gesture! I have tears in my eyes as I write this. I believe that God planned this and used you as his instrument to change someone else's life.

    2 days ago
    3 days ago
    3 days ago
    That you thought of what your mother would have wanted. In today's world all so many people can see is dollar signs. To pass to someone who will use and love is special. So many beautiful things are bought by collectors who stick the on display when if the things were used as intend so much more joy would be in this world.
    4 days ago
    I think there was a guiding hand in this, Claire. What a limpid soul you are.
    5 days ago
    This is such a beautiful blog and it made me think of my mother. We just passed the 4 year anniversary of her death and I still miss her so. I believe you made a wonderful decision for what to do with the violin. I'm sure your mother would be very happy to see it passed down to someone who will take good care of it and use it to make beautiful music. You and your mother are in my prayers.
    5 days ago
    Good luck to you
    5 days ago
    I cried as I read your beautiful story and the many loving responses. It is a priviledge to share in your life through Sparkpeople. God bless you you richly; I do believe in God and that He directs our steps. (Particularly when we listen and obey.) emoticon
    5 days ago
    What a beautiful story. You're right, God did have a part of it from the very beginning when your mother first started playing the violin. This reminds me of when my grandmother bought my first flute for me when I was ten years old. Everyone was surprised that I wouldn't give it up. i still play it to this day in my church orchestra. But it doesn't stop there. She always had a piano in her home and taught each one of her grandchildren how to play easy songs such as chopsticks and so on. I took a great interest in piano as well and she gave me great attention in teaching all the songs she could. She never learned how to read music but new how to play hymns. I eventually took professional lessons in college since I pursued music education as my career at the time and she bought me a piano. Her one request for me to learn her favorite song- Amazing Grace. Once I found an arrangement that I loved and played it for her. She was in tears when she first heard it. Her only request was that I play it at her funeral almost 4 years ago. emoticon
    5 days ago
    What a wonderful thing you have done and how proud your mother would be of you. This is such a ray of light at a time when there are so few!
    6 days ago
    What a blessing you are! And how happy your mother would be!
    6 days ago
  • _BABE_
    What a good heart you have...
    6 days ago
    Tu as fait quelque chose de bien. Je suis très ému. Merci pour le partager. emoticon
    6 days ago
    Thank you, Claire. I love your story and your heart for others. And what a tribute to your mother! I can relate to you in so many ways, from living and working in Africa, to photography, to humanitarian work, to hiking and the outdoors.
    Grieving for a mother is different than any other. They are our earliest existence.
    7 days ago
  • DBEAU57
    I loved reading this blog, especially when you told us how God has worked in your life. It seems He knew just the person who your mother's violin should go to, doesn't it? Lovely!
    7 days ago
    emoticon I also have two violins which my father played in his youth. He had even played a solo in an all state orchestra when he was in school and actually stood next to John Phillip Sousa during the concert. He also played on the radio. Yet, as he grew older, he never played them again. I never saw or heard him play the violins. Even so, those violins seem to be a connection for me to remember him. Now that I read about your heart wrenching decision as to what you should do with your mother's violin, you have given me more food for thought. Thank you once again, Claire. emoticon
    7 days ago
    What a perfectly beautiful story! I have no doubt that, if our loved ones are able to view us from Heaven, your mother is nodding and smiling at your decision to pass her violin on to this young lady. May the thought of it being played well and loved well, make your heart happy.
    7 days ago
    Very sweet story and so sorry for your loss. I lost my mother when she was 54 and I was 25. (I'm 47) Time does heal most, I can speak about her and share about her without a tears streaming down my face. But I'll never find a replacement for mom, how could I? Thank you for sharing your story, I had a hard time getting rid of clothes that she wore so I kept 3 outfits only. The rest were in such lovely condition, that I donated them to help battered woman. She would have loved that. God Bless you and your family. Choosing to bless that girl in Yerevan with your mom's violin was a very kind and selfless act. The kind that makes mother's and God smile.
    7 days ago
  • SPICY23
    Courage and kindness. So hard to let go but such a gift to a young artist and a superb way to honor your mother. She is proud of you; always.

    Peace and Care
    7 days ago
  • ANYVAR54
    So sorry for your loss. I think you made the right decision as to where your mother's violin should go.
    7 days ago
    Thank you so much for sharing such a beautiful, personal story. I cried reading of your desire for the music to continue with someone who would love as your mother and you did. I am sure your mom is smiling down on her thoughtful daughter. I enjoy so much your walks and pictures. I have never traveled far and your pictures and words opens the world up for me.
    7 days ago
    Claire, Have you heard of Willy Arteaga? A young man from Venezuela and his violin. He is in prison now just for participating in protests as the people of Venezuela are fighting for their freedom. His only crime was to play his violin in support of the people protesting. I think you would find his story interesting. Thank you for sharing this story. So super sweet. Maritza
    7 days ago
    So saddened by the loss of your mother but thankful her violin has a new owner that will make beautiful music for years to come. God richly bless you.
    7 days ago
    how thoughtful and amazing God's work in this. glad to see your mom's violin passed down and reaching others.
    7 days ago
    What a beautiful story. Your Mom is so very happy with your decision..I just know it. I felt the same way about my Dad's flute a very good one he had since his college days. He majored in music and became a music teacher and band director. The flute was his instrument. My brother now has that flute, and I am so happy he does.

    Again, I am so happy you made that decision. I too believe God had it all planned and you listened to him in your heart. emoticon
    7 days ago
  • LRB605
    Thank you for sharing. The legacy of your mother will continue on!

    8 days ago
    Such a wonderful way of not only honoring your mother, but helping to sustain the precious gift of music that she loved. Thank you for sharing.
    8 days ago
    What a wonderful idea. So many lessons learned in your actions....expressions of love, music, caring, sharing. Thanks for sharing.
    8 days ago
    Thank you for sharing, and for caring, and your generosity!
    8 days ago
    Ah so beautiful. A wonderful tribute to honor your mom - the blog as well as the violin.

    I lost my mom in June to dementia. I am with you in spirit. - Betsy
    8 days ago
    That is a wonderful story, I am really glad you found someone who could use it so well. I am sure your mother would be happy with your decision as well. :)
    8 days ago

    Comment edited on: 8/14/2017 1:28:41 AM
  • JERICHO1991
    Good to hear your mother's violin will continue to bring joy to others. That is a wonderful gift. I hope you get to hear it played by it's new violinist.
    8 days ago
    What a fantastic gift. All the blessings, for everyone involved. So touching.
    8 days ago
    There is nothing better than a gift of the heart.
    8 days ago
    a lovely story and a lovely gift.
    8 days ago
    How lovely!
    8 days ago
    I think that your mother would be very pleased and proud of how you've taken care of her instrument and seen to it that it will live on in Mariam's hands. My daughter is a violinist, and I think that she would really love this story.
    8 days ago
    I'm so very sorry to hear about your mom. I've not been getting the notifications for your blog for some reason and just got lucky and saw it on the home page. So I didn't know about your mom. For her it is most likely much better, I know my mom would be so much better if she could go and be with the Lord. But I understand how it is for you. Lucky us, we get to loose our mothers twice and grieve so much longer because our mothers are earthbound but not "here". But oh, what a wonderful gift you are able to give which will be a tribute to her as well as you, and how lovely for that young woman to receive such a wonderful gift. It will be such a special thing and I know it will be so very treasured. It will be a bit of your mother's spirit flying free each time it is played. I get chills just thinking about being able to hear that music that will be played. I wish it could fly around the world so we could all hear it with such joy beyond words that it will be giving. God bless you, and I believe along with you that the Lord had his hand in this to find the home for that very special violin.
    8 days ago
    Wow! Thank you for sharing this!
    8 days ago
    What a beautiful story! I know your mother is happy and very proud of you. I lost my mother last October and it's still painful. I hope your grief is eased somewhat by knowing what a wonderful thing you did for a young woman. Hugs to you.
    8 days ago
    What a waonderful way to honor your Mother!
    8 days ago
    This story and your pain touched me. My mother went to heaven almost 12 years ago, and the pain still lingers. I can't help but think of how proud your mother must be of you. Being able to take something that was so much a part of your mother's life and give it to another is a heartfelt act of love. This violin will continue to bring beautiful music to the ears of many and great joy to the recipient.
    8 days ago
    Ooooh, Claire. How wonderful that you found a way to help your grieving, and that your mother's violin will go to someone who _needs_ it, wants it, and appreciates both the violin and your feelings about it. I weep a little for/with you. Blessings on you, the violin, the recipient, and the people who delivered it. Peace be with you.
    8 days ago
    So beautiful! Thank you for sharing.

    8 days ago
    What a blessing your gift to that young girl will be, not only to her but to the many people who will hear her beautiful music. I played the violin as a girl. Such a beautiful story, thanks for sharing and God bless.
    8 days ago
    I recently lost my Mom after a long illness. I cared for her daily. Now her home is cleaned out and sold. I have her auto harp
    8 days ago
    I just lost my MoM last August 21st also my Son on Sept 9th of last yr, so I know how you are feeling, it is such an overwhelming feeling of emotions that never seems to leave you, I loved your story and I'm sure your Mom would have been very happy and proud of the decision you made to share her violin with someone who will love it as much as she did!
    8 days ago
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