60,000-79,999 SparkPoints 70,413

My mother’s violin

Voted Popular Blog Post: View All Popular Posts

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...

P.S. Update October 2017: The violin safely reached its new owner! Here is a picture of Mariam playing it... I am happy. :)

Share This Post With Others
Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Dear Claire, this is such a lovely story, and as readable as all your blogs. I am glad your search for a worthy home for your mother's violin came to such a happy conclusion, and I hope you keep in touch with Mariam for years and are able to hear her playing the violin in public on many occasions. I lost my father last year, but sadly my memories of him have been completely poisoned by my stepmother (his second wife), and I have ended up embittered and disinherited (he was a very wealthy man, but made a new will ten months before he died which left everything to my stepmother and cut my sister and I out entirely). These bitter and angry feelings do nothing to heal the grief I feel, and I am just glad that you have been able to salve the wounds by finding such a good thing to do with the violin. My thoughts are with you...
    200 days ago
    I have no words.
    This is a wonderful thing.
    I am so happy for her and for you.
    God indeed does work these things out for us, I am convinced...
    211 days ago
  • LYNCHD05
    This is a very beautiful story and I know your Mother would be very proud of you......
    241 days ago
    What a beautiful gesture, Claire! I can't think of a better way to honor your mom's memory. I think she would be really happy with your decision. And how wonderful that you'll be able to hear the sound of your mom's violin in Mariam's hands when you visit Armenia again!
    This was such a touching and heart-warming blog. Thank you for sharing it with me. I really wish I had the time to be on SP more often and read more of your hiking and travel blogs that I love.

    242 days ago
  • KAREN91
    This is a beautiful tribute to your mom and her love for music and her violin. I believe like your Mom did that God arranged it all to work out so well. I haven't been keeping up with your blogs lately but I should because they minister to my soul. Your blogs uplift my spirit, thank you Claire. emoticon
    265 days ago
  • AMBER461
    Thanks for sharing, you have fond memories of your mom
    294 days ago
    Je viens de trouver ce blog. Que tu es bonne. Je suis certaine que ta maman est contente de ce que tu a fait avec son violon, le donner a une jeune fille qui commence une vie professionelle dans un orchestre. C'est mieux meme que tu connais deja son papa. J'ai l'idee que ta maman n'aura pas voulu que tu le garde pour les souvenir. Bisous mon amie. emoticon emoticon emoticon

    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    313 days ago
    So beautiful!!
    314 days ago
    What a beautiful blog Claire. I am very sorry to hear your mother passed away, I have been absent from the site and didn't know. I hope that you are managing to navigate the grief, which is such a difficult journey. What a beautiful thing you did in giving the violin to someone who would love it. Tears in my eyes reading this.
    With love,
    315 days ago
  • MARYM1962
    this brought tears to my eyes! what a beautiful story - and YES God did set this up
    320 days ago
  • QUAIL75
    Thank you for sharing and what a wonderful way to honour your mother! emoticon
    323 days ago
    326 days ago
    Ahh Claire -
    I was so pleased when you remembered your Armenian trip!! For one thing, you introduced me then to a wonderful musician, Tigran Hamasyan. And there are sooo many musicians who do not own their own violin (or other instrument), even after learning to play well on borrowed instruments. I had to cry a bit, because I do not know what happened to the violin my dad had after my grandfather died. My dad never really learned to play it, but he didn't want it being sold just to any random person. So it's all complex, but the short end of it is that I don't know where the violin is. I just have to pray that God knows and that it will end up where it is supposed to be. I think it is magnificent that Mariam will now have a wonderful and loved violin - you know a happy violin will play happy!! You will have something to look forward to, the next time you travel to Armenia for your job (Which I hope will be soon enough!!).



    327 days ago
    That is a wonderful thing you've chosen to do with your mother's violin - her love of music and the joy of this particular violin will continue to spread and enrich the lives of others.

    Her memory will always be a blessing to you - and now to this young woman in Armenia.
    328 days ago
    Blessings to you and to Miriam. Remember that Miriam is a Biblical name.
    328 days ago
    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!
    330 days 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
    330 days 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.

    331 days ago
    332 days ago
    332 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.
    333 days ago
    I think there was a guiding hand in this, Claire. What a limpid soul you are.
    334 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.
    334 days ago
    Good luck to you
    334 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
    335 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
    335 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!
    335 days ago
    What a blessing you are! And how happy your mother would be!
    335 days ago
  • _BABE_
    What a good heart you have...
    335 days ago
    Tu as fait quelque chose de bien. Je suis très ému. Merci pour le partager. emoticon
    336 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.
    336 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!
    336 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
    336 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.
    336 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.
    336 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
    337 days ago
  • ANYVAR54
    So sorry for your loss. I think you made the right decision as to where your mother's violin should go.
    337 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.
    337 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
    337 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.
    337 days ago
    how thoughtful and amazing God's work in this. glad to see your mom's violin passed down and reaching others.
    337 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
    337 days ago
  • LRB605
    Thank you for sharing. The legacy of your mother will continue on!

    337 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.
    337 days ago
    What a wonderful idea. So many lessons learned in your actions....expressions of love, music, caring, sharing. Thanks for sharing.
    337 days ago
    Thank you for sharing, and for caring, and your generosity!
    337 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
    337 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. :)
    337 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.
    337 days ago
    What a fantastic gift. All the blessings, for everyone involved. So touching.
    337 days ago
  • Add Your Comment to the Blog Post

    Log in to post a comment
    Member Comments Page (256 total): 

    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.