A violin is a musical instrument with four stings of treble pitches and played with a bow. A player of this instrument is called a viiolinist. My favorite Great-Aunt, Miss Jestena Pearson played "First Violin" in this old family home of ours in Starkville as she grew up here and into her adulthood years. In this old home she took her leading role as a violinist. These old walls and rooms can still hear her tuneful melodious, harmonious and pleasing sounds ringing out within these walls. Tena, as we called her, played and used her skill as a violist as she often performed for the family and friends for pleasure.
Tena was musically inclined, and she had a musical manner about her being. She viewed life every day as living a beautiful day and expressing her emotions through her violin musical ability. Tena played the violin like the songs of a bird, the murmur of running water, and the cry of hounds on seeing a chase. She was delightful to hear and listen carefully to her musical notes as she made this old home fill up with melodic and harmonic sounds with her instrumental sounds as she carefully played her violin of classical music and musical compositions. As we became her listeners, we all seemed to join in with her by simply listening, and all of us made music together. Tena made sweet music to our listening ears, and hearing her play her violin was most pleasant to our ears.
Have you ever had a very favorite Great Aunt? I did! Her full name was Jestena Pearson. She was my idol and she was the the Great Aunt I adored and wanted to be just like when I grew up. She was petite, pretty, had a deliberate and easy-going personality. She spoke softly and was so kind and so helpful to everyone she ever met and loved. She was a very spiritual lady, and never missed going to First United Methodist Church every Sunday. She was admired and very much loved by her own family, and by this whole community.
Tena spent her whole growing up years in this old home place. She was the daughter of the Wiley Bartley Pearson (who designed and built our home, buying the land in 1904 and completing the building of this home in 1911) and Mollie Drake Pearson. She was the youngest of six. She became a banker,and lived and worked in Laurel until her retirement She went to Jackson to spend her last days in a large apartment complex. Tena never married, and when she died we made sure that Tena was buried by her father whom she adored and loved here in Odd Fellow's Cemetery on University Drive.
Jestena Pearson was my hero and still is. When my thoughts drift back to Tena I think of having and loving the very best Great-Aunt a girl could ever want to know, have, and love so dearly with so many pleasant and precious memories as she would return back to her roots, to this old home, to visit, and her spirit still gives me such pleasure of her life and her memory growing up here in these very rooms I call home today.
When we went to visit her as she was getting much older and aging, we had our second son, McReynolds, with us that day. After laughing and visiting for hours, and it was time to leave. Tena suddenly got up from her comfortable chair, excused herself for a few minutes from our presence,and appeared with an old tattered dark brown violin case, and said, "This violin of mine is for you, Carole, to keep in safely in your possession and in your heart strings within your heart of memories of hearing me play my violin in the old family home in Starkville. One day when I am gone, and you are gone on to The Church Triumphant, I want you to make sure that Lewis McReynolds Davis,your second son, receives this instrument to carry it on as a gift in life of mine to enjoy and think about all the music that I played on my violin. McReynolds was taking private violin lessons at the time,and he was merely a third grader.
We have treasured and kept her gift to us all of these years. The battered and worn case is home to a fine handmade German violin now over 100 years old. Tena's violin lost three strings, but has one remaining string left. The long, beautiful bow used to strum these strings remains. How beautiful is this opened violin box and precious violin inside this old box that has survived and lived a good a life with Tena all of these years and now with me as I protect her thoughtful gift to be safely kept to one day pass on to my son, McReynolds as a gift from his great-great-aunt What an inherited treasure given from her heart to ours. I can still hear her violin softly and beautifully playing in our family home today. Tena's loving spirit lives on in this old home and deep within my memories of growing up here and growing older now here.
When I was thirteen years old I painted this painting behind the violin. It too only had one surviving string. In a way, Tena's violin matches my painting. Look at my painting done so many years ago. I signed the bottom of the painting with only my initials. The top of Tena's violin case is hiding at the end of my violin painting, which goes all the way to end of the canvas (the chin rest and the curve of the ending of the violin are in the painting itself). I chose an opened book of colorful pictures behind the violin, a clear glass vase which picks up the reflections of the red scarf behind the still life scene. Shadows fall from the green leaves in the pretty glass vase to the right side of this painting.
The over 100-year-old piece of furniture made a nice table to place Tena's treasured and inherited gift on. The framed painting I did so many years ago is framed in darker brown wood, but matches the table, violin, and case. It is against a white wall and opened shutter to the left of this scene. The old hardwood floors catch the shadows of the table and offer a classical look to this scene. The green velvet picks up the color of greens within the plant in the vase above it.
When we completed renovating our family home, which took three long years, I wanted to find a special place to keep Tena's violin. I did not want to keep it inside a dark closet, but to bring it out into the light and sunshine of the very home Tena grew up in to be enjoyed in a tasteful setting. The dining room is where it is stored, and the violin is often heard being played softly, if only in our imagination. We can often hear Tena softly strumming the one string, with her little chin resting on the chin holder, and playing to her heart's content on her violin. What a loving and lasting gift for generations to come that Jestena Peason presented to me that day. I now get to share Tena's story with you.
Sharing and giving away is what our earthly lives should be about. My wish for each one of you right now...this very second, is that you stop and listen to the violin playing and enjoy the painting behind it. Listen to the violin music and see all the beauty around us all. Enjoy to the fullest each sunrise and sunset of every day that is given to you. Share your life with someone else along the way if it is only a "Hello," "How are you today?" "Make this a great today!" Don't forget to SHARE, LOVE and ENJOY EVERY SECOND YOU LIVE!
Oh, the memories of this old home, the sounds of Jestena Pearson's violin playing all the way to my now upstairs art studio and the sounds are still ringing in my ears, sketching and painting "Violin, Bow, Opened Book, Glass Vase, Green Leaves, Red Scarf and Grey Background" which I share with you now.