She was an attractive woman with thick dark hair that started turning white in the middle of her life. She was the oldest of 3 children. Her mother was from Scotland and her father was from England. She loved to cook and tend to her flowers in the garden. She had many friends. One of the things I remember about her was how she loved listening to Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand. She would sit in her chair with her head back and her eyes closed. I still recall that ever so slight smile crossing her lips as she heard her favorite songbirds sing.
He was a good-looking man. He was one of eight children of Italian descent. He was stern, hard working and realistic. He was a three-letter athlete in high school before serving in World War II. He was into wood-working and sports. One of the vivid memories I have of him was his love for swing music and jazz. He would whistle the melody as the song played from the home stereo or car radio. I can still hear him say, “Boy, I wish I could play the piano like that.”
This is a snapshot of my parents. Both of them have passed on. And like you, I will remember them as we celebrate Mother’s Day on May 8 and then Father’s Day on June 19.
Since their passing, life has been different. Obviously, there are no more personal visits or phone calls. There are no more firm handshakes from dad or kisses on the soft cheek of my mother. The physical beings have left this world and sometimes the years have removed some of the memories I once had of them. And since I’m an only child, there is no sibling who can help me remember them. But over the last few years, others who have lost their parents have shown me another way I can recall my mother and father; I can remember their legacy.
Legacy will often prompt us to view the relationship with our parents with a specific dimension. Legacies are important and a true sign that the individual was here and left behind something valuable for us. They often will define our own existence and show us the connection to our parents. This could be by way of a profession or business, a hobby or passion, a saying or expression. It could simply be a way of life, as it was for a good friend of mine who has lost both his parents
I asked him what he thought was his parents’ legacy. He immediately responded, “style.” He went on to say, “My mother and father introduced me to good food, culture and entertainment. I was lucky; from New York City to Montreal and throughout the northeast, I got to see a lot. They showed me how to enjoy life. I carry that with me today.”
As for me, most people know my passion for creating music. In the last ten years, my music has found a home with those grieving loss. It is available now and what is equally important is that it will be available to help others long after I’m gone.
I have this gift because of my parents. In addition to giving me life itself, they surrounded me with music and then in their own way, showed me how it affected them. Even today, when I compose music, I visualize my mother with her head back in the chair and my dad whistling along with the melody. Little did I know that when I was young, these outward, almost unnoticeable signs of embracing and connecting to music would be such an influence on the music I write and those who listen to it.
And music now lives on in my children. My son plays guitar and is one of the songwriters in his rock group. And my daughter hears the music and translates it into dance, which she started when she was 3 years old. A part of my parents and me are there when I see them “doing their thing” with music. I’m sure you can relate to this with your own legacies.
May 8 and June 19 might be two good days to look at our own existence through what defined our parents and how that now lives in us and others.
I wish you all a Happy Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. I will be standing next to you celebrating, remembering, and honoring our parents and where the journey for each of us began.
Tony Falzano 2011Tags: signs and connections