CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Sometimes, life has a way of just falling into place.
How else do you explain the perfectly appropriate job, a meant-to-be marriage and the unbeknownst family connections to the new home that stole her heart?
Sounds like fate working behind the scenes.
Marjorie Cooke grew up in North Carolina in a house filled with music. Like her mother, she plays the harp, "a natural fit." Today, that cultured background inspires her work as general manager of the West Virginia Youth Symphony.
In college at Davidson, she met her future husband, a prospective lawyer from Charleston, another "perfect fit." Later, she learned about familial ties to the state she would embrace as her own.
She's passionate about mothering her two sons, equally passionate about her role as mother hen to 115 Youth Symphony students. Like most working mothers, she struggles daily with achieving that elusive thing called balance.
"I was raised in North Carolina, but I was born in New York City. It was funny. My parents were on a trip to see five nights of opera. I came early.
"My father was a law professor at Duke for 41 years. I'm from a family that cared a lot about education and the arts. I remember going to Duke Artist Series performances of the North Carolina Symphony and my father would carry me out asleep over his shoulder.
"My mother played the harp. I knew all her music inside out and backwards. So it was this subtle undercurrent. The harp was just part of my life.
"NPR music was on in the house, so if it wasn't my mother playing the harp or my brother on the drums or my other brother playing the violin, there was always music in our world.
"I don't remember having a dying love for the harp, but music education was a high priority, and there was a wonderful instrument in our living room, so the harp was a natural fit.
"So many children start on violin and cello and piano, but I had a harp in my home, a huge blessing and unusual. Taking advantage of it was the key.
"I took lessons for 11 years, practiced 30 minutes every day. I started at age 7 and played mostly solo pieces for recitals. Only when I was older did I play with an ensemble.
"The harp is the second hardest instrument to learn to play, second to the organ. Harpists are hard to come by.
"The harp is a glorious sound. It can be soft or big and bold, and my teacher was not a soft kind of harpist. She was powerful and strong and played modern as well as classical, so she was an inspiration.
"I was not playing harp to be a professional musician. I was just growing up in a house where you tried new things and you learned and you grew.
"Music was part of what my mother wanted to bring to our childhood. I'm trying to do the same thing for my own children and through my work with the West Virginia Youth Symphony. I feel like I have 115 children, all exploring music.
"Our children, Will and Hayden, are musicians. Will is six years on piano. Hayden is five years on violin.
"Choosing Davidson for college is one of the greatest decisions I've ever made. It was a fabulous education in a smaller environment where I felt I could made a difference, and it was a perfect fit in terms of the friends I made and the wonderful husband I met, a West Virginian, Andy Cooke. He recruited me to this state.
"Andy has been a lawyer here with Flaherty, Sensabaugh and Bonasso for 19 years. He's the son of Bill and Ann Cooke who were proprietors of Latimer's.