Mystery Tulips and Gratitude
My house is filled with small signs and symbols of my past. Sometimes covered with layers of dust. Sometimes sparkling in the sunlight.
This photo caught my eyes and my heart this morning. I was looking for something else, and found this instead. Reminders of who I am, where I’ve been and what I treasure.
The tulips are front and center. They arrived in May 2012, two days before Mother’s Day. The card with the tulips didn’t have the name of the sender. It did, however, have this quotation:
And so our mothers and grandmothers have,
more often than not anonymously,
handed on the creative spark,
the seed of the flower they themselves never hoped to see
—or like a sealed letter they could not plainly read.
The tulips, sent by my daughter, are long since gone. The quotation is still on the bulletin board just next to my desk. A constant reminder of what I owe to my mothers and grandmothers—those related to me by blood and those I’ve come to love as part of my extended family.
The quotation is sad and true, like an elegy that grieves and expresses gratitude in the same breath. My mother passed on to me her musical ability, desire and need to play the piano. It was what she had to offer. Enough to carry me through for years, yet not enough to take me the full journey.
Playing the piano was like speaking a coded language. A way of expressing through my body, channeled through my hands, what my heart felt or wanted to feel. I still play the piano. Yet I find myself drawn more and more to writing.
Here’s how I see it now. Playing the piano was and is a crucial part of who I am. It isn’t, however, everything I am or yet will be. Without words, piano music is incomplete. Beautiful and moving, yet sometimes an elegant placeholder for words not yet birthed.
Today I relish the ability to put my inner thoughts and feelings into words. Things I could only think about, or didn’t realize I knew or needed to say when my voice was silenced externally and internally.
I’d like to think the skill my mother passed on to me also kept her safe and in touch with herself. What might she say today that she could only hint at or point to back then in her piano playing?
I treasure music. I also treasure my words. Freely spoken and freely written for myself, for God, and for those with whom I choose to share them. Thanks for your faithful reading.
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 29 May 2015
Photo by Elouise, May 2012