Several years ago, my mom took on an enormous Christmas gift project. She compiled a set of spiral-bound books containing all the music we used to perform as a family… for each of her SEVEN children. We each now have books for violin 1, violin 2, viola, cello and piano, with pieces ranging from bridal marches to religious stuff and fiddling to Christmas. They’re huge, see?
Today I got out my copy of the piano book to play some Christmas songs. When I flipped to the beginning of the Christmas section, I noticed what was on the other page – the end of the sacred section:
It’s I Am a Child of God, arranged circa 1980 by my mom for her then-small family to play. I wasn’t alive yet, but I’ve heard a million times how my oldest sisters played their violins with my mom on the piano, and my dad reportedly “did his best on the cello,” which I’m still not sure I believe. Sorry, Dad.
This became our closing number for every single performance. I can’t even guess how many times I’ve played this exact arrangement – and I was the last one on the scene. I’m not the best at comprehending large numbers, but I bet tens of thousands of people have heard the “Lund Family Strings” play this piece.
I played through it today, and I couldn’t help but notice the comment at the bottom:
Constructed with “A” in every chord to allow beginner to play along on open A string in quarter notes.
I’m pretty sure we have video footage of me doing exactly that at age three. And I’ve known this my whole life, but for some reason, today it just hit me what effort my mom must have put into this. Not just this one song, but all of it. She didn’t leave the little ones out when they couldn’t play it – she just wrote a part for them! She put her musical talent to use as she raised her kids, instead of letting it lie dormant. Did she make mistakes? Of course! Are there things that I wish had been different? Sure! I remember well the feeling of tears pooling under my chin on my little violin, and I know several of us kids have or have had “issues” with the whole music thing, but my mom did the best she could with what she had, just trying to do what she believed was important. Now as a mother of “only” four children, I truly DO NOT understand how she even kept us all alive, let alone handled seven kids’ worth of private lessons, group lessons, recitals, solo & ensemble, symphony youth guild service hours, school choir and band performances, community orchestra practices and performances, family rehearsals (shudder – I can’t even get my kids to clean up their Pokemon), family performances (with matching dresses that she always made herself), competitions (oh, the drama!), accompanying us for everything, and the daily grind of practicing, ON TOP OF school, dinner, rotating kids’ clothes, sibling rivalry, church service, moving and all the other things that drive perfectly nice, normal women to insanity all the time.
Seriously, Mom, it doesn’t add up. Did you sleep at all?
Today as I played that song, my eyes wandered back to the other side of the page, where this picture starts the Christmas section of the book:
- First of all, we’re pretty cute in our nativity garb. I remember doing this every year on Christmas Eve, with varying levels of seriousness and eye-rolling.
- I’m the only one looking at the camera. What can I say?
- Um, where’s the baby Jesus?
- The stripes on my brother’s shirt line up perfectly with the bricks behind him, making him look kinda like a ghost. Crazy, right? Couldn’t have planned that better.
- Look at my mom. Isn’t she beautiful? I just saw her there today in that blue head-wrap thing she’s wearing and thought she’s beautiful, and what she did for her family is beautiful. It was messy, imperfect, and so very loud, but beautiful. And because of her, I have a knowledge, appreciation and love of music, and I know that I am a child of God. That was her testimony shared with all those people over the years. That was what she could do in her own way and circumstances to show and pass on what was important to her.
Moms in general amaze me, but this lady in the blue scarf is one of a kind. I love you, Mom, and I’m sorry for being such a punk at times, and thank you for everything.