Last week a thought occurred to me. I should get out my flute. Not only would it be nice to play again after a few years of not playing, it might give me a burst of creativity. I’m always looking for ways to encourage my creative spirit including walks, sketching or reading. However, in my advanced age, I promptly forgot about playing the flute.
Actually after moving, the flute got tucked away along with my music. At our former home, my flute was out on the piano and I’d walk by and stop to play. We donated our piano to our kids’ elementary school before we moved.
I was reading through blogs yesterday when I ran across a mouse playing a flute in a story on Nuggets of Gold called Moonlight Sonata. A note went off in my head. Yes, I want to get my flute out — and music.
I remembered where I squirreled away my music in the guest room dresser. My flute was hidden in my closet. My favorite flute music is falling apart, but still readable. I also found piano music for the Phantom of the Opera and Wizard of Oz. The good thing with the flute is that it’s in the key of C and I can play piano music easily — at least the melodies.
My mom played flute since she was a child and took me to lessons when I was around 10 years old. I played her beautiful silver flute at lessons and practiced with it. She got the flute from her high school flute teacher as a teen. When I was 11 years old, she gave me her flute. Her friends asked why she would give a child such a valuable instrument and she took it back. My parents bought me a flute appropriate to play at school when I joined Band.
When I turned 30, I asked my mom for the flute. She said no even though she hadn’t played it after taking it back from me two decades before. I was planning to make a leap and join our church choir. A friend of mine played flute in choir and suggested I give it a try. I could have played with my old band instrument, but it sounds tinny and is hard to play compared to the rich tone and ease of Mom’s silver flute.
Anyway, that was my excuse — also I was scared. Buying a flute at that time wasn’t even an idea we could consider.
I asked mom at age 40 and again at 50. The answer was always no. Sometime in my early 50s she told me she wanted me to have her flute. On one of my visits, she insisted I take it home on the plane. I held on to it for dear life on the flight back to Palm Springs.
My son and I practiced Christmas Carol duets each year, me on the flute and him on piano. I’d go through phases where I’d practice daily and then stop and start again.
Then the phone calls began. Mom had moved into assisted living. When she was in her 80s she wanted her flute back. I tried to explain that I was enjoying playing and I knew she wouldn’t play her flute or even open its case. She assured me she would and wanted to practice for a concert. Then she’d forget all about it and months later she’d call again about the flute.
I think in the back of my mind, I was hurt when she took the flute away from me as a child. I overheard her telling a friend that I was getting my sticky peanut butter and jelly fingers all over it — which was not true. I also felt that it was wrong to hang onto a possession for thirty or forty years and not let someone enjoy it.
My aunt, her little sister, had a similar story with china inherited from their family. My mom gave it to her little sister (my aunt) before she moved from her home, but once in assisted living kept calling to get her china back. There was obviously no room in the assisted living studio to display the china or store it.
Looking back, I wonder if I should have returned the flute for a few years to appease my mom. I think she was attached to these possessions because they reminded her of her earlier years and she saw them as her identity.
In any case, I have the flute and music out and it brings me joy to play and connects me to Mom in a good way, that I am able to enjoy her beautiful instrument and her musical talent. RIP.
Do you think people hold onto possessions because they see them as part of their identity or youth? If yes, what other things do people hang onto for that reason?