5: The Silver Flute

5: The Silver Flute

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Dad

The Silver Flute

There is no greater loan than a sympathetic ear.

~Frank Tyger

“Mommy, what’s this?” my youngest daughter called from the living room.

I turned my head to see what she was referring to. My eyes fell on the black-and-white rectangular instrument case in her hand. Memories flowed over me as I stepped towards her.

“Oh, my,” I said choking back my rising feelings. “It’s my flute.”

I took the case from her and gently laid it on the dining room table. Clicking the snaps on each side I slowly opened the lid. There lying on a red velvet lining was my old silver flute that I had played more than forty years ago.

“Play it, Mommy,” she squealed with excitement.

“Oh, I don’t know,” I hesitated. For a few minutes, I was carried back in time to another world. In the background I could hear the beat of the drums and the sound of the instruments.

I was playing in the marching band again. Wearing my heavy navy uniform and hat, I walked with all the others back and forth in formation. My fingers played the Sousa march and my heart beat with pleasure. Another football game. Another half-time.

It had been difficult for me growing up in a family of six. I was the shy and quiet one, always willing to stay in the background. My parents did the best they could to provide for the needs of my two brothers, younger sister and me. Even so, something was missing from my life, and I didn’t know what it was. I was always a good student and played the piano for the choir. But, at fifteen, I was insecure and longed to feel a part of something.

One day, I was wandering around in my unsettled life feeling burdened and out of sorts. I tried playing the piano, which I often did to quiet my soul and refresh my spirit. But this time it just didn’t seem to help. As I rose from the piano I saw my dad walk into the room. He went over and sat down on the sofa and began to open the newspaper.

“Hi, hon,” he said keeping his eyes on the newspaper.

“Hi, Dad,” I answered softly. At that moment I felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders and I really wanted to be alone.

“What’s the matter?” my father questioned, putting down the paper.

“I don’t know,” I answered, feeling embarrassed by the question.

“Come over here.” He motioned for me to sit down beside him.

He looked at me as I sat down. The more he probed, the more I began to spill out my feelings of being alone and not accepted at school.

My father seemed to take it all in stride and tried to solve the problem.

“Well, what can we do?” he asked.

“It might help if I could play in the band like David,” I responded. My older brother always seemed to blaze the way. “He gets to go to all the football games for free and ride the bus. A pianist doesn’t get to do anything but play the piano.”

“Well, okay. We will get you an instrument. Which one would you like to play?”

“The flute,” I answered, hardly believing my own ears. “That way I can have lessons with the others and play in the band.”

Before I knew it my father had dropped the paper, stood up and moved into action. Grabbing the telephone book, he located the closest music store. Next thing I knew, he and I were off to buy a flute.

When I got to the store, I was mesmerized by all the shiny instruments. The manager led us to the flutes. Carefully, he opened a few different ones, but I already knew which one I wanted.

“Well, what do you think?” my dad asked.

“I like that one,” I said quietly. There it lay so new, so shiny, so absolutely perfect.

“That’s a very good flute,” the manager explained. “You will get a beautiful sound from it.” Within minutes we paid for the flute and walked out of the store with me carrying the treasured instrument.

My heart was spilling over with joy, not only about the new flute but because I knew that my father loved me. The worth of that love meant more to me that day than all the instruments in the store put together.

True to my word, I took lessons and began playing in the high school band. In a matter of months I started playing at football games and marching in parades. For the first time in years, my heart felt settled and at peace.

“Please play it, Mommy.” My own child’s words jarred me back to the moment.

“I don’t know if I can,” I said as I put the pieces together.

I ran my hands over the silver flute while listening to the trilling of flutes and piccolos in my memory.

Placing the flute to my lips, I slowly began to play, first one song and then another. Amazed that I still remembered the fingerings, I grabbed an old book and for the next few minutes was lost in the music.

Thank you, Dad, I thought, for knowing my heart and for being so willing to do what you could to help me that day.

There was more to be treasured in that flute than met the eye. And I will always cherish the love that it represents.

~Sharon Beth Brani

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