Wednesday, November 10, 2010

on funerals, music, and growth

In early July I mentioned that I had gone to a friend's funeral. Last Saturday, I went to another friend's funeral (too many funerals, says me). The similarities between these two friends of mine who passed away are unreal (in fact, if I told you the whole story, you wouldn't believe me); to share just a few: they were both in their fifties; they were in the same line of work; they each left behind a wife and children and scores of friends, colleagues, and admirers; they both enjoyed success in music (which was not a career for either of them); and in a twist of irony, it was their hearts which ultimately failed their bodies -- ironic because of the pure love and charity which flowed from those hearts, which drew in those around them, and which I certainly encountered in the short time I knew each of them.

I was kind of fascinated by the displays at their viewings. Tables and easels and photos and books, all arranged as part of an exhibit of a lifetime of accomplishments. Among the visible memories were audible memories. At the viewing in July: a cd of recorded duets by my friend and his son, as well as numbers by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, of which my friend was a member. At the viewing last week, a very different genre: music of Elvis, The Beatles, Neil Young, and The Grateful Dead; upon approaching the table where the music was playing, I read a sign which said that the music we were hearing was a recording performed by my friend and his band (dead-on covers, those). (And on Saturday, at David's funeral, the song Consider The Lilies, performed by David's friend Roger Hoffman who, you know, wrote that song.)

The last time I saw David, we talked a little of music, and I told him that due to some underlying belief that I've got to Be The Best if I'm going to do anything at all, I haven't really done anything with music, and of that I am ashamed. He asked me more, so I told him more: When I was younger I didn't realize that one could perform/create music AND have a family. I really didn't. I thought that if you were a musician then you had to live a life void of family and faith, Selling Your Soul, essentially. So I chose family and faith, putting every ounce of my efforts into being the best wife and mom I could be, leaving my musical talents to gather dust in the name of Not Being The Best. My friend smiled. "Jenny," he said gently, "lots of people make music, even though it's not their main focus in life. You can enjoy music without it taking over your life. Many people do that. It doesn't mean you're not able to be successful elsewhere." Of course this is something that I know -- I have many friends who are musicians who have families. But it took my friend telling me this, in those words, for it to really sink in.

Introspection, of course, has also had its hand in my life over the last week or so, and I wonder: what would be on display for me? What physical manifestations exists to represent the life I've lead? A pile of diapers? A laptop? Swim goggles? And so I've decided to put some energy and thought into pursuing things in which I have an interest; things for me which will also enhance the lives of my family members.

Here are some things I've always wanted to do:

~ Record music. Singing, playing. I don't mean the cassette tapes I have of my old band, although I'm grateful to have those, too. In fact, I think I should get those out and have a listen.

~ Be in a movie. I don't really know how this could happen, but it's something that's always been there.

~ Dance in front of, and get cheers from, a large group of people; have them think I'm a good dancer. Check.

~ Be on the radio. I've already done this. I'd love to do it more.

~ Learn Clair De Lune on the piano.

~ Paint something. On canvas.

~ Learn how to take amazing photographs. My pride has pushed this aside due to the trendiness of Getting A Camera And Starting Your Own Photography-On-The-Side Business By Taking Pictures At An Angle And Using Photoshop. But my desire to know how to take my own photographs is still there.

~ Be a competitor, not just a participant, in triathlons.

Those are some. I don't need to be the best at them, but I can still enjoy them. I imagine as I stretch and strengthen these muscles of talent, more ideas will come my way.

*****
I learned so much from these friends who have passed on, and because of how they lived their lives, my life is, and will continue to be, better. Much better.

At the funeral on Saturday, a letter was read from the pulpit, written by one of David's sons who is currently on a mission in Georgia. In part: "Dad has his imperfections, as we all do. His temper could be short at times, his tongue quick. Yet, it was evident by the way he lived that he was working to overcome those imperfections."

I'm holding on to that one very tightly.

26 comments:

AzĂșcar said...

I can help with the painting and the canvas.

Shar said...

So sorry for the loss of your friends.

I've seen the video of your dance
moves, and girl, Beyonce better watch her back!

Emily said...

I find I'm always wondering what my own funeral would be like..what kind of legacy I would leave. I have much work, let me tell you. I can't wait to see you check off every single one of those. I'd be happy to help with the triathlon thing. Next summer I'd like to "compete" as well!

Christi said...

I struggle with the effort of doing ANYTHING outside of home and family. I want to... but sometimes it seems like the amount of energy it requires is just too much. I get paralyzed. I tell myself that I can't do anything extra until the dishes are done, the 3 month supply is complete, the lawn is mowed, etc. Thanks for the reminder that I should just do it!

Gerb said...

Boy, can I ever relate to so many of your thoughts here, Jenny. In my very last class with my awesome primary kids a couple of months ago we talked about talents. Allen was in there with me and he told the kids about how I used to sing in church all the time and how he wished he could hear me do that more often. I hadn't even thought about it until he mentioned it - but now 'the singing thing' (as my brother and I called it) and many other dreams that I've left behind are sneaking back into my brain and wanting to be pursued.

We'll have to see what comes of it.

I'm excited to see what comes of your list, too.

Jen said...

I've thought about what anyone would have to celebrate my life with before too...I should make a list like yours of things I'd like to do. I don't know what kind of movie you want to be in, but I could ask Jason what they are filming at MPS and see how they cast for that stuff if you are interested. good luck with your list and I hope you'll blog about doing them!

cw said...

More love and hugs.

Melody said...

Isn't life strange and sad and wonderful? God bless you... through all your losses and all your new opportunities.

Kalli Ko said...

you go with your bad self, all things are possible my friend

~j. said...

Azu'car - excellent. Thank you.

Shar - Thank you. And I hope she's watching her back...I know I am. (wah-waaaaah)

Emily - yes! Let's do a race together next summer!

Christi - Yes, it's so hard to set The Checklist aside, to wait for perfect conditions -- because they don't exist -- in order to persue these things. (You're still singing I hope?)

~j. said...

Gerb - Oh, how sweet that Allen would tell the kids that. I think there's a reality of what we can do when our kids are so little, but I also think we -- no, I could do so much more. As moms, we juggle, so some of what we include in our juggling act should be for us, don't you think? You're a good example to me of doing things...things I use excuses for, such as, "Oh, no, not with little kids around." Thank you, Gerb.

~j. said...

Jen - definitely make your list! As for what type of movie, there's only one certain type I can think of that I will not agree to being in, and I'm confident that that's not the type with which Jason is involved. :) Thank you, Jen.

cw - thank you, Friend.

Melody - strange, sad, and wonderful? Yes to all. Thank you so much.

Kalli - you rock my world.

La Yen said...

Your table would be empty--because I think your lasting gift and amazing talent above all is you gift for cultivating and nurturing relationships. So your table might not have stuff on it, but the chairs? Every single one would be full. (And then I would throw myself onto the coffin wailing and keening. Just for you.)

Kayt said...

That was beautiful and I feel really inspired after reading it! :)

vanessa said...

oooh I liked your list. I also want to someday paint something beautiful on canvas and also become a better photographer. I have a hard time with the trendy thing too. When I see every single woman my age at Thanksgiving Point with my exact same camera...I feel weird and hide it in my bag. Someday we will both get over it ;)

c jane said...

When you learn it, will you come and play Clare de Lune for me at my house?

Steph said...

I feel like an underacheiver. I don't really have a life list. Or many aspirations for myself. You have me thinking my friend.

~j. said...

La Yen - Okay. But at least one thing could be on a table. Like Tortilla Soup.

Kayt - thank you! Glad you liked it.

vanessa - Awesome. What will you paint? I'd love to see it.

ceej - yes, I will.

Steph - underacheiver? Please. You are amazing. (I'm looking forward to seeing you this weekend.)

Fig said...

I could try to pry Yen off the coffin for you, and she could hang on by her fingertips and screech. You'd enjoy such a scene at your funeral, wouldn't you? I know I would.

(P.S. I love this post. Good luck with every single thing.)

Greek Goddess said...

Well written.

I, too, set much of my music aside for motherhood and am recently trying to find ways to integrate it into my life again (more than just playing the hymns for church!).
Good luck incorporating your dreams while passionately pursuing motherhood at the same time.
I find that even doing something small helps fill some of my needs. It was when I wasn't doing anything with my music and I suddenly realized it that I fell apart.

I like your list of things you want to do. Makes me want to write my own.

(PS, I'm a friend of Queen Scarlett's!)

~j. said...

Fig - Oh, a scene for sure. (And, thank you.)

Greek Goddess - Welcome! Any friend of Queen Scarlett's . . . . Thanks for your support. What will you be doing to bring music back into your life?

NatureGirl said...

What a beautiful post. Both tribute and wishlist. Thank you for sharing such tender feelings and longings. Go forth with faith...

Anne said...

I'm sorry for your loss of two friends.
I think those are wonderful aspirations. Good luck!

~j. said...

NatureGirl & Anne - Thank you both, so much.

Greek Goddess said...

~j., is this where I'm supposed to answer your question?

As far as what I'm doing to bring music back into my life, it's so small that I'm sure it would sound insignificant to anyone else, but it's important to me. I hope this isn't too boring, but since you had the courtesy to ask, I shall respond.

I've resolved to actually play the piano for the songs for Family Night instead of just sitting on the couch singing a cappella.

I've resolved to get out my box of rhythm instruments more with my 3 year old and just play along to fun music in the background.

I've been more consistent with my 7 year old's piano lessons.

And I've simply just sat down once in awhile to play for myself.

I know that doesn't sound like much, but with 3 kids (youngest is 7 months), that's an improvement on what I was doing before! :)

My musical "crash" happened
here

Sorry that got kind of long.

Thanks for caring.

~j. said...

Greek Goddess - For the record, I don't find that list to be insignificant nor boring. It's brilliant, and here's why: Those little steps will lead to bigger things. Your current list of goals are realistically achievable with the stage of life you're in now. And as these goals become more of the norm (and as your kids get older & gain more independence), you'll be able to add more steps (line upon line and whatnot). Good for you. Thanks for sharing your list.