Sherry Hofmeister and reflections on love, music, legacy, faith, etc.
Sherry Hofmeister, my first violin teacher, died about a month ago in Florida. I was able to attend Sherry's memorial service in Louisville on Friday. I don't remember her at all, but I wanted to honor whatever impact she has had on my life. (A small world story: Martha was one of the adult violin students in my music studio from my grad school days in Texas. She retired and moved to Florida, joining the community orchestra there. Her first stand partner? Sherry!)
I really enjoyed the service-- a celebration of a life well-lived; a reminder of our hope in the resurrection of Jesus and the resurrection of the dead; a beautiful setting with beautiful music. (The setting was also historic: Middletown Christian began in 1836 and we ended the service by ringing the old bell which they have in front of the new building-- in a small structure comprised of brick from the old building.) A bunch of her students played three pieces, including Humoresque (with the harmony part)-- a beloved piece in the Suzuki music repertoire. She had her three boys read a poem each. Two of her granddaughters sang all four verses of Jesus Loves Me. The pastor read Ps 150 and Jn 14. And so on.
I learned that she was born exactly one week after my dad. I learned that her family lived in Elizabeth, IN for four years in the 1970s (a tiny town where Bob/Bonnie Parker have lived for years and where our friends, the Shaughnessys, live now.). She started or at least greatly empowered a string program at a charter school in Florida, after she retired. I found out that she played in our church orchestra for years. If I had ever joined (and I couldn't given their strenuous schedule and my PM teaching), I would have met her again.
I'm confident that music and all of its trappings have made a big difference in my life-- although it's difficult to discern cause/effect clearly. Music makes us more human and puts us more closely in touch with the divine. It helps with forming an aesthetic-- an appreciation and healthy respect for beauty. The teamwork of making music together is an inspiration for compassion and empathy. The practice of music promotes humility and discipline-- what a combo! And in all of this (and more), it's interesting to imagine the impact Sherry had on me as my first teacher-- even though I don't remember it at all.
Such things always/hopefully get us to think about our legacy, faith, life, etc. Everyone described Sherry in ways that were beautiful and seemed credible. (Sure: People usually sound awesome at funerals, but this sounded legit.) From the numbers and influence they cited, she made a profound difference in this world. She was remembered for her accomplishments-- in particular, what she empowered others to do. But more than that, she was remembered for loving really well. It was an inspiration to strive for greater impact, but more important, to be reminded of the over-arching importance of love. How will people remember me? How will people remember you?