My husband holds many cherished memories from his preteens through his college years and beyond of accompanying his father on the piano while his father played the violin, one he had played as a boy growing up in Karlsbad, the most famous spa town in what was then Czechoslovakia.
Wolfgang soon fell in love with the music and soul of the violin and asked fervently that he be allowed to learn to play, too. But his piano teacher advised his parents to have him concentrate solely on one instrument before taking up another. Unfortunately, the time never came for him to take up violin playing.
Later in life Wolfgang began to hope that his dad’s old violin, not of significant monetary value, would be passed on to him someday. Neither of his siblings had learned to play either so it seemed reasonable to him to harbor this dream, especially since he had been his father’s sole accompanist. It was a desire fueled from treasured memories epitomizing a father/son bond and their special times together when sometimes his dad affectionately called him “Amadeus”.
Many years went by until, inevitably, Wolfgang’s father passed away leaving his mother to pick through the pieces of 55 years of marriage. The couple had moved from Germany to America as displaced persons when Wolfgang was 3½ years old. The humble belongings they collected through subsequent years represented a frugal life, including eight years as missionaries in Africa in their later years.
Then, eight years after his father’s death and two years after his mother remarried, while helping them consolidate their belongings and move into one home, my husband came across his dad’s violin in its unique wooden case tucked away in a closet. Overcome with emotion and memories he opened the case and looked once again at the old violin. Surely this was the moment –he would ask his mother if he could have it.
Without going into the details of the conversations that passed between Wolfgang and his mother over the ensuing weeks and months, her answer was finally unequivocal: he will never possess the violin. Rather, she deemed it should be passed on to a grandson who plays the violin.
Heartbroken and not a little angry, my husband has had difficulty accepting her decision. But like so much of what life presents to all of us these days, rather reasonable or unfair or unwarranted, we can choose how we relate to circumstances that come our way.
Hubert Humphrey wisely noted,
Life’s unfairness is not irrevocable; we can help balance the scales for others, if not always for ourselves.
And a favorite quote of mine from an unknown source,
Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.
Though my husband may never own his father’s old violin, he can smile because he will forever be in possession of those singular, inspiring, magnificent times that he and his dad played together music that surely made the angels sing.