How To Make Good Memories

Let There Be Good Memories

Ten years and one month ago, yesterday, my mom passed away from pancreatic cancer. Last night, by mysterious gift from friends, I was able to have a little date with her, and no, I don’t mean her ghost… I was simply with the memories that she and I created together. Was I crying? A little bit… But, my tears were accompanied with an ear to ear smile.

As a single mom of four children, my mother had to juggle a strenuous real estate career while making sure my brothers and I were all cared for. As the only girl, my mom would often take me to programs offered through the parks and recreation department. I took horseback riding lessons; I was in girl scouts; I went ice skating; I played baseball and softball; and gymnastics. Of them all my favorite babysitter was The Sparta Chamber Orchestra. While my brothers wrestled with each other and shot at things with BB guns, I listened to stringed instruments perform classics by Beethoven and Mozart.

It’s interesting how easily we take things for granted as children. I loved all of the activities I was involved in, but I missed stable family experiences. We didn’t have a pleasant home life. We distracted ourselves from our dysfunctional family by being away from home for as much of the day as possible. Of course, as an adult, I am now thankful for the existence of these distractions, but as a child, I felt sad and lonely. My attention drifted towards what I didn’t have, rather than what was great, right in front of me.

Hollywood Bowl LA Phil Harmonic Orchestra
Last night, the same realization swept over me as I sat in the Hollywood Bowl Amphitheater. The LA Phil Harmonic was playing beautifully. I remembered many childhood hours, sitting in an empty church, while my mother played second chair violin in the local chamber orchestra. Every week, she practiced and I tagged along. Those moments (then and now) are magical. The way the music bounced around in the empty sanctuary, as I explored the religious alter, unsupervised. It was as if my imagination had it’s own musical composition playing in the background. These are absolutely treasured moments.

So, for a brief moment last night, while remembering these memories, made by my mom and me, I felt a pang of sadness and loneliness. The fact that I can never physically enjoy live, classical music with my mom is heavy. But I smiled anyway. I have such great memories attached to my mom playing violin; and to live orchestral music. I am forever in gratitude for the distraction of music to protect me from flying BB bullets. For as often as I focus on the delights, pain has no place in my heart.

I do believe the same could be said for any and all of life’s situations. No situation is ever bad or good… it is simply our choice of perspective that deems it so. Had I chose last night to focus on the lack of my mom’s physical being, the entire night would have been blanketed by sadness and grief. Because I decided to turn my attention to those lovely memories created by a mother doing her best to provide for four young, squabbling children, the night was magical and enjoyable.

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