“Hi Mom!” A Mother’s Legacy…Part Two
by Betty Mason Arthurs
“Hi Mom!” I look up towards heaven with Mother’s Day coming this Sunday, and say “hi” to my beautiful mother who passed away years ago. I also say “hi!” to my husband’s mother, Ruth, who has also passed on. I will always miss them and remember contributions they made to my life as women of faith and prayer.
Yes, it’s time to celebrate Mother’s Day, a time to tell our mothers how much we love and appreciate them.
Here’s a photo of my mom with my brother’s three girls. Gayle, Alycia and Donna now have children of their own. My mother, gently kissed by middle-age in this photo, loved her grandchildren “to the moon and back.”
My title comes from the TV moments I love when a camera focuses on the face of a football player and he waves and says, “Hi Mom!” It doesn’t matter if he’s a NFL running back, an amazing collegiate athlete or spends the whole game warming the bench, to a mother, her son is a super star. She’s usually the one who drove him to practice when he was a boy and screamed encouragement from her lawn chair. Moms and dads sacrificed to pay for uniforms, camps and club sporting events for their sons and daughters. Olympic stars also attribute their success to their moms
My mom’s biggest desire was for my two older brothers and me to learn to play the piano. She left it to our dad to help my brothers in sports, but no matter where we lived in small town America, she found us piano teachers. My first lessons, as a five-year-old, was in Manhattan, Kansas. I walked the two blocks every week to Ethel Byers’ home. From my first lesson it was obvious I had no natural talent. Looking back I’m sure that as my mother, a minister’s wife and homemaker, listened to me practice, her prayer life increased in volume more than the glaring mistakes I made. And she probably longed for ear plugs. But she never gave up on me as she reached into the china tea pot, which held her extra cash, and gave me money for my lesson.
I learned, I practiced and had lessons for over eleven years, eventually able to play for church and classical music in recitals. I married my college sweetheart, John, a talented musician, whose dad played violin and mom was the church organist. We had two children and when they got older, like my mother, I searched and prayed to find a piano teacher for them in the Phoenix area. This is a 1973 photo taken when Rob turned one year and it looks like Julie and I are singing to him.
When we were searching for a new church in the 1980s, we met Elizabeth Jelsma, mother of four teenagers, who had over 60 piano students and also taught school. She became a vital part of our lives with lessons in her home every Saturday, teaching Julie and Rob piano skills beyond anything I could have ever imagined. The kids had obviously inherited their dad’s musical genes. Blessed with incredible teaching ability, she loved her students and was devoted to their success. She often said, “If you have no natural ability you can still surpass those who do if you practice hard.” Rob played Maple Leaf Rag by Joplin and Julie played Turkish March by Beethoven at a recital on May 10, 1986…yes, I’ve kept their programs.
Imagine my shock, while waiting for my children to finish their lessons, when I discovered Elizabeth’s old music program on a table:
Carnegie Recital Hall, January 17, 1952, Piano Recital, Elizabeth Augsdorfer.
Yes, our amazing piano teacher debuted at age 17 years at Carnegie Hall! I couldn’t wait to call my mother and tell her the news. God blessed us with a phenomenal teacher. And I credit Elizabeth with starting our son’s career as a band teacher. His wife, Heather, teaches elementary music and their four children play instruments. Our daughter, an elementary school teacher, has made sure that over the years her three boys had music lessons.
“Can you see me, Mom?” I’m waving and saying, “Hi Mom. I don’t think I ever said thanks for the vision you had for piano lessons. Your legacy of faith and love of music will continue on for generations. ” And I wave to Elizabeth, who died in 2006, “Thank you for the priceless music you brought into our lives.”
How did your mother encourage you through the years? Have you told her “thank you” for her love?
Oh, Betty. What a lovely tribute to your mother. (I see where you got your good looks.)
Thanks Andrea. Happy Mother’s Day!
My mother is long gone, but she had music teachers for my brother and me. Bob has natural talent. He didn’t take piano long enough to be proficient, but he can play almost any band instrument. Right now he is teaching himself to play the French horn. I was the kind that did well because I practiced, not because I had talent. Our mom was the church organist from the time I was little until she died. I followed in her footsteps 1,000 miles away, being our church organist/choir director for 25 years. Our children did not do particularly well musically, but our grandson will be singing in Carnegie Hall this June. It’s nothing like Elizabeth’s debut; he’ll be in a choir celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. I enjoyed your post very much.
Thanks so much for telling me about your music ministry. What a blessing you are. And how exciting for your grandson with such an amazing opportunity in the choir! Happy blessed Mother’s Day.
I can no longer play the piano well due to years of battling Rheumatoid arthritis, but I still.plunk out a few notes. Grateful for what I can do. When life gives you a hundred reasons to cry, tell life you
have a thousand reasons to smile!
Betty, I certainly identify with your beautiful letter to our mother. Yes, she had determination when this guy wanted to get out and shoot hoops with his buddies. She insisted on “15 mins.” of practice which I felt was torture undeserved. But I am eternally grateful now. Not only did I play for church as a teenager, but also studied music in college while using the knowledge of music to help me sing in quartets, church choirs, and eventually direct music for 3 churches. I think the true test of love is for a parent to insist on those tasks which will really become strengths when a child becomes adult. Mom and Dad both did that. As your “big” brother I salute Mom and see not only the music accomplishments of our family, but I think the writing ability of my little sister was greatly influenced by our parents. Don
Thanks, Don. Yes our mom had a vision for the success of her children that now reaches to the children she touched while teaching Sunday School and ministry to young mothers in the church.