My parents are classical musicians. I have fond memories of running around backstage at concerts, getting to do cartwheels on the stage at Symphony Hall in Chicago and hiding under the bar listening to the adults get drunk at after-concert receptions at our house. I don't have many memories of watching them play, but I know their music. I can tell when it is my mom's fingers that are dancing over the piano keys by the way her playing is always technically perfect and musically telling but never takes itself too seriously. I know the sound of my dad drawing the bow across his cello strings from the way the sound somehow intensifies after the bow is lifted and the occasional grunt that escapes his lips when he gets lost in the music.
This morning my dad brought a cello to my son's kindergarten music class. He sat in front of 26 6 year olds, including Hayden who was beaming with pride, and explained string instruments. Then he played some songs, talked about different sounds you can make with the instrument, and answered their questions ("Uh.... uh..... is that cello a guitar?" "Oh! Oh! Oh! I play the guitar!" "Can your bow shoot things?"). It was one of those moments when I tried to soak it all in and make a movie in my mind so I could replay the morning in years to come.
Watching my children get to know my parents has been one of the most emotional and meaningful parts of being a parent. That my kids will know that my dad loves to swim not from my stories but from spending afternoons at the hotel pool with him, and that they will know what it feels and sounds like to sit next to my mom at the piano and open the book of folk songs that belonged to my grandfather and sing, is so very special that I can think of nothing sarcastic to say to layer on top of the sincerity I want to convey.
So, mom and dad, thank you. For being my parents, for loving me, and for loving and truly wanting to know my children.