Connections

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Lola is 12-years old now, and that’s a difficult time in the life of every young girl.  Even Lola, who is amazingly intelligent and independent, is going through that awkward middle school stage of life.  She’s tall and thin, and her body has quickly become something that to her must seem quite unfamiliar.  I have spent the past couple of years equally worrying about how she is adjusting to a new school environment and being impressed with her “old soul” philosophical attitude about most of the challenges she has encountered.

I encouraged Lola to sign up for band this school year.  Unfortunately, she is not able to take both band and choir in this school district, and last year she opted for choir.  While she enjoyed it, I could see that musically, she wasn’t learning much.  She agreed to take band this year, but she was apprehensive about being a year behind the rest of the kids in her class.  I promised her that she would quickly catch up, and she has.

Lola met with her band teacher at the end of last school year to select an instrument.  Anyone who knows our family, or reads my blog, knows that music is a large part of our lives.  I was thrilled to see Lola testing instruments.  Though she asked me repeatedly to advise her on a choice, I kept my mouth shut.  This had to be her decision.  Learning an instrument can become one of the most rewarding things in life, but only if that is a personal choice.  It wasn’t a matter of expense as we own several trumpets, a trombone, two saxophones, three clarinets, and a drum set.  Even if she had selected an instrument that we didn’t own, I would have gladly added to our collection.  She chose the trumpet.  The other kids had all been waiting to hear what Lola chose, each wishing she would pick their instrument of choice. Her big brother Luke, the trumpet player, was thrilled.

If we still lived back home, I would have known any number of people who could teach Lola the trumpet, but we’re not back home.  We’re here, and I didn’t have a clue where to take Lola for lessons.  I looked online for the music center nearest our home and set up an appointment for a lesson.  Lola’s first lesson was several months ago, and I feel incredibly blessed that my random selection set in motion a wonderful chain of events.

Lola is shy, so shy that on the night of her first lesson she begged me not to make her go.  She had a tummy ache from worry, but I promised her that I would stay with her through the entire lesson.  Lola and I waited together for her teacher in the tiny studio lesson room.  When he opened the door, I was stunned.  He was a tiny man well over 70 years old, but his presence filled the room.  His hair was snow white, and his eyes sparkled.  I stared at him in amazement.  He reminded me of the man who introduced me to jazz, Bob DuBois, a trumpet player.  Bob died about a year ago, but the impact he had on so many jazz musician carries on.

Lola’s teacher’s name is Mike.  He has played with some of the greatest names in jazz.  He and I spent part of her first lesson talking about common likes and dislikes while Lola quickly relaxed.  Eventually, Mike turned his attention to Lola, and the lesson began.  Their connection was almost instantaneous.  They made each other smile, and I could see that she wanted learn as much as he wanted to teach.  He offered to take Lola’s trumpet home with him and give it a good cleaning and tune-up.  The next day, Lola and I went to his home, near our own, and her trumpet was shining like new.

That first lesson was months ago, and their friendship has blossomed.  Twice each week, 12-year-old Lola and 70-something Mike, spend an hour together.  Without fail, Lola comes away from each lesson with a smile on her face.  Her confidence in all areas of life has soared.  T and I secretly call Mike Lola’s trumpet therapist, because the change in our daughter has been so positive and dramatic.

Frequently, Mike sends me texts telling me how wonderful Lola is doing, how quickly she is learning.  Just tonight, Mike sent me this text.  “Pam, Lola is doing remarkable work.  I’m not sure if you have heard her lately, but her sound is superb and she is really really getting it.  She is easily my best student.”

Yes, I’m proud that Lola is a good student on the trumpet, but I am incredibly amazed to witness the special relationship that has developed between a young girl and an old trumpet player.  It is readily apparent that they both “needed” this relationship in their lives.  The rapport they have is heartwarming to witness.  I talked to Lola about it tonight, about just how special it is that she and Mike have found each other and this unique connection.  She said, “He’s one of my best friends.”  Wow!  I love this kind of thing.  When people step outside of their comfort zones, whether that be school, work, neighborhood, or even age group, all kinds of interesting people await.  Once again as a parent, I learn another lesson from my child.

Spent

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The week from HELL carried on into the weekend from hell.  Friday wasn’t a good day.  T has some serious things going on at work that I will keep out of this blog to protect his privacy.  However, I will say that they were serious enough to consume hours of conversation and to cause fear in both of us.  Not the kind of fear where you’re afraid of losing your job, but the kind of fear that makes you wonder, “Why in the hell am I involved in this anyway?”

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Week From HELL

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I went to bed early (for me) on Monday night.  I had an early morning meeting the next day followed by an evening event.  I knew that a long day was ahead of me, and I was patting myself on the back for trying my best to be rested.  I had left my phone on, as I had promised Emily, because she was working a rare overnight shift.  By 1:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning, she was texting me.  “Mom, something is really wrong.  I’m feeling so sick.”

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Runaway

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My daughter, who recently turned 20, ran away from home when she was 14 years old.  I don’t remember if I have ever written about this horrible time from the past.  It was a horrible incident, and probably one of the worst experiences I ever had as a parent.  That is saying a lot, considering we have lost two children and our oldest son had a terrible accident (brain injury, multiple broken bones, and was in a coma for three weeks) when he was 12.  What made the runaway incident worse by far was the fact that she chose to leave.  She chose to hurt us.  My babies didn’t choose to die, choose to leave me.  My son didn’t choose to be injured.  She chose not to care.  She chose to hurt the ones who loved her. Continue Reading »

Can This Be Optimism?

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The trip to Vegas did me wonders.  I’m still feeling upbeat since my return.  There was one moment on my trip, sitting in the sun talking with two friends, when I felt a warm tingle.  During this particular moment, I felt life’s blessings surrounding me.  I was warm.  The sun was shining, and I was with friends.  I felt humbled to know that they actually like me, chose to spend time with me, and that they cared for me.  I knew it was one of those moments in life that would become a treasured memory, and I felt honored to know it as it was happening.  I sat there thinking in disbelief, “These are good people, and they are my friends.”  I had grown to believe that I did not deserve such things.  I still smile at the thought of such a blessing in my life, a simple moment that made me happy to be alive and on this earth. Continue Reading »

My Amazing 10-Year-Old

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Mom and Lola

She wasn’t planned.  She wasn’t even supposed to be here.

In 2001, I was pregnant for the fifth time.  I had three living children.  Needless to say, my pregnancy history wasn’t good.  Because of that fact, I had a standing order for a tubal ligation after this birth.  My plan was to stay an extra day after delivery and have my tubes tied.  In the event of a c-section, I had made it clear that I wanted my tubes tied during the procedure.  My wishes were noted on my medical charts. Continue Reading »