Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Going Home Again 7.24.10

Saturday was a bittersweet day. I spent time running with my mom and then alone. I spent time in the lakebed pondering the losses of the summer. I spent time practicing my Mompou and playing lots and lots of other gorgeous music.

And then it was time to head to Long Beach for Mrs. Gibson's memorial service.

The service was held at the Unitarian Church in Long Beach. As I walked through the grounds, I remembered my first time there. It was a Mozart competition. My dad had told me that if I won my division, he would buy me a grand. I was playing the a minor sonata (K. 310), first movement, and my fingers had just had their first cracks. I was in a warmup room, waiting to play, and I showed Mrs. Gibson the cracks in the fingertips. She had me pound my fingers on a tabletop so that the pain dulled to a numb ache instead of the sharper original pain. And then I played. And I won. And my dad bought me a grand. And then he kept it. Thanks a lot, Dad.

I also remembered coming home from college and driving to the same church with Kurt to attend a chamber performance of Mrs. Gibson. I don't know if she had become Leaine to me yet. Probably not. It took many many years of adulthood before I could call her by her first name without cringing.

So even the location of the service was evocative to me. This woman loved me, coached me, taught me how to phrase a melody line, how to think for myself, how to wring joy out of life. She cared deeply about me, about my family, and about the music she taught me.

Somehow my love of music is wrapped up in my love of her. And I don't think I even realized it fully until it was too late to tell her.

The service was full of beautiful words and beautiful music. And when it ended with a video performance of Mrs. Gibson performing Chopin, we all cried and cried and cried. Her voice has been stilled in this world, but I'm sure she plays on in the next.

After the service, Mom and I drove to the CSULB campus so I could reminisce about the years we would walk to the music building for my piano lessons. I am still blown away by my mom's dedication to my music lessons. She had to cart not just me to those lessons, but anywhere from three to seven other children that she had to keep entertained and quiet. For eleven years (until I could finally drive myself). Have I mentioned that my mother is a good woman?

After CSULB, we drove by my elementary school and then finally by our first house. The day included so many memories of a rich childhood.

It was a wonderful, special day.

I am very grateful.

(Ooooo...and very exciting. I met Mrs. Gibson's main teacher, Julien Musafia, who performed two Chopin mazurkas at the service, and found out that my musical lineage goes back to Leschetizky. I'm feeling very old school and cool now.)


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Michelle said...

I loved reading this. Love you!

Jill W said...

Beautiful post. I can't believe you went all the way from Yorba Linda to Long Beach for your lessons. OK...OK...I went from Fountain Valley to Orange for mine... Cool musical lineage! I hope the peace you found that weekend carries you through the next year.

The Dances said...

Love you! What a full summer you've had. I think about you often. If you ever need anything (that can be provided all the say from Cali), let me know.