Wednesday, October 14, 2009
A Time to Mourn, and a Time to Dance
One of my most prized possessions, given graciously to me by my mom, after my dad's death, was my dad's clarinet. I was fortunate to grow up in a family of music lovers, my dad included. He played clarinet in schools in Amarillo Texas where he grew up, as well as for LSU, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he (and my mom) attended grad school, and where I was born. I have fond memories of my dad playing his clarinet for us, and I was always mesmerized by the sounds he could make with it. My dad was a huge fan of classical music, as well as jazz, and we regularly went to concerts at LSU and in and around Baton Rouge. One of the highlights of Mardi Gras for my dad was seeing (and hearing) Pete Fountain's "Half Fast Walking Club" stroll by on Mardi Gras Day in New Orleans.
After my dad's sudden death in May 2008 my family drove down to New Orleans over Christmas Break last year to help my mom go through all of my dad's things. As you know, their house had 2-3 feet of water in it during Katrina. So not only is this clarinet a cherished memento, but a Katrina survivor as well... tucked as it was up high in a closet and lucky to have been protected by its case. It was over Christmas that my mom allowed us to take it with us, intending it to be used for a potential instrument for my son as he started 6th grade band this year.
Now I have no experience at all with band. I learned piano and violin growing up, so I had no idea how to even put the clarinet together. Plus having sat in a closet in Southern Louisiana for many years unused, it needed maintenance and cleaning. The case was musty (to say the least), the key pads separated, corks old, etc..
As my son started band this year, I didn't' want to put any pressure on him to choose clarinet as his instrument, and made that clear. But choose he did.
Last week I sent this clarinet off to school to be repaired through the band program. It just came back last night! This past week I've shed so many tears thinking about this clarinet and my dad. I deeply mourn the fact that my son never got to see his grandpa play it, and that my dad will never hear the instrument played by his grandson. Grief is such an incredibly difficult journey. There's no telling when it'll cripple you, even months after a loved one has passed. But with this gift, I know there will one day be a time to dance.