I have a violin, which may seem strange, as I can’t play a note. Next month I will have had it for 20 years and I still don’t play a note.
It is my father’s violin. I say “is” because even though he died 20 years ago it will never be mine. It will always remind me of him – playing in the evening, in a group or even doing a duet with one of his granddaughters on keyboard or recorder.
The violin goes back as far as I can remember in my distant recollections – back to Holland. My dad had many musical instruments over the years: pianos, harmoniums, keyboards, recorders, pan pipes … He tried all sorts, even a guitar but his fingers were too short for the neck which made the violin ideal. He played by ear so it was not always enjoyable when he first got hold of a new instrument.
But the violin is the oldest. It is the one instrument that is always part of my memories of my father. Yes there are many other memories like dad packing my mother’s vacuum cleaner into a soundproof box so it could push air into the harmonium with the result that he didn’t have to pedal – and mum didn’t have a vacuum cleaner. Yet over all these moments the image of my father and his violin remains the most enduring.
It will be 20 years next month when my dad was promoted from being an earthly fiddler to a player in heaven’s orchestra with some of his favourite composers and musicians. I can imagine dad under the musical direction of J. S. Bach.
But even after 20 years I still miss his playing – the good and the bad.