Today was very special. Aside from being the last day of our Florida recital tour, it was also the day I got to see my step-sister, Leanne, for the first time in twenty-one years- since our father’s funeral. Leanne came to our final recital at the University of Tampa, and it was quite an emotional experience to reconnect after all these years. Our fractured family prevented us from having a normal relationship….my parents divorced and Dad married Leanne’s mother. I have always been the baby of the family, but I’m really not- my brother Andy and sister Leanne were born from that second marriage, but being close was never an option. There was too much hurt on the part of our parents to make that a reality…until now. Our parents are gone, and it is time to heal past hurts and move forward in love.
I find that I have become fiercely protective of my mother’s memory. Where I used to hope that I looked like my father and shared many characteristics with him, now I want to embrace that which is like my mother. I see so many physical characteristics that I share with Mom, along with the personality traits that seem to become more prevalent over time. As I looked into my sister’s face, I immediately saw our dad…but I saw her mother’s eyes. I thought how interesting it was; we both have Dad’s face, but our faces frame our mothers’ eyes. Dad was not always a kind man, and I mostly escaped what Leanne did not. Though it was poor, I grew up in a home filled with love and encouragement. My sister was not as fortunate, as our father seemed bent on tearing down rather than building up. Leanne was very close to her mother as I was to mine, and she cared for her until the early end of her life, brought on by brain cancer. We both understand the gift our mothers were to us.
Our mothers may have never foreseen this reunion – or maybe even approved of it- but I would hope they would support our efforts now. My hope is that love truly does conquer all. Leanne and I can help to fill the gaps we have from our broken family histories. She can answer the many questions I have about our father, and she can enjoy the connection of sisterhood with me that she has never experienced before. I like the idea of having a little sister to get to know, to spoil. We will appreciate these gifts now more as adults that we ever might have as young children. I often repeat the saying, “Better late than never.” So very true.
This tour has brought many gifts – music making with my best friend, connection with students and clarinet colleagues across Florida, the start of something new and exciting with our Amicitia Duo tour. I love that life is always bringing us change and excitement to keep us from growing stale and complacent. I am grateful for the gift of reconnection with my sister- a chance to heal old hurts and right the wrongs of the past. I think that maybe Heavy D has let go of her pain and is cheering us along from her heavenly vantage point. Maybe she, Dad, and Ginny have released the hurts of their past and are ready to let their children move forward in peace and love. I’d like to think that anyway. Love is always the answer.