79: The Gift of Music

79: The Gift of Music

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Touched by an Angel

The Gift of Music

Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life.

~Ludwig van Beethoven

In the summer our young family loved spending Sundays at the swimming pool in a nearby mountain park. One afternoon in July, I heard my name paged to come to the office for a phone call. Immediately I was apprehensive because calls were not allowed unless it was an emergency. My brother-in-law was on the phone and told me that we had to come home because my brother had died in a tragic accident.

In disbelief, my husband and I packed up everything and drove home. It didn’t seem possible that Danny was gone. I had just talked with him the night before. We were three years apart and growing up we loved playing music, singing, and dancing. When he was eight years old our mother bought him a youth guitar and he asked me, “How do I learn to play this?”

“Maybe you should try practicing ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’ since it is a song for kids,” I suggested.

“That’s a good idea,” he said and ran to his room.

About fifteen minutes later he came back and played and sang the song. Looking at him in wonder, I asked him, “How did you learn that song so fast?”

After thinking about it, he explained, “I practiced like you told me to.”

Laughing out loud, I told him, “Go practice ‘Mary Had A Little Lamb.’ ”

Again he was back in about fifteen minutes playing and singing the entire song. This time I joyfully told him, “I think you have the gift of knowing how to play a musical instrument by ear.”

Over the years he brought so much joy and music to our lives. In recent years he had kept his musical equipment in my large family room because he lived in an apartment. In addition to the guitar, he also owned and played a set of drums and harmonicas. Sometimes he would even play my piano or keyboard while we sang gospel, country, and popular songs. I admired him because his musical talents were outstanding and seemed effortless, whereas I had to practice quite a bit just to sound good. When Danny and his girlfriend, Laura, planned their wedding, they asked me to play the organ music at their ceremony. It had been an honor. Now he was gone.

The day after my brother’s funeral, I was standing in the kitchen looking out the window crying. Suddenly a red robin landed on the brick windowsill and looked up at me. Blinking its eyes, the robin stared and stared at me, seeming genuinely concerned. I was amazed that it didn’t fly away when I wiped my eyes, and I thought that maybe it was my brother or my guardian angel coming to console me. When it eventually flew away, so did the music.

Life went on, but it was painful. For the first time in my life, I wasn’t interested in singing in the church choir or playing the piano. When our washing machine broke down and needed to be replaced I decided to sell the piano. After all, I reasoned, no one played it and the cash would come in handy. When the new owner rolled it out the door on a piano cart, I ignored the slight twinge in my heart.

As our children grew up and turned into teenagers, their father and I had sadly grown apart and amicably divorced. Together, my kids and I kept the faith and worked our way through those hard times. It was about five years later, the day after Thanksgiving; I sat and thought about my life. Even though I was only aware of a few times that my guardian angel had positively made her presence known, I decided to call out to her. Sitting at the kitchen table I bowed my head and prayed that I might find someone special to date and maybe spend the rest of my life with. When I finished my prayer and looked up I couldn’t believe my eyes. In front of the kitchen counter and the silverware drawer was a foggy blurred image of a husky man about 5’10” standing with his back to me. My spirits soared because I knew my guardian angel was letting me know that I would meet someone special.

A week before Christmas, some friends invited me to go to a Saturday night oldies dance that a local radio station was hosting. I hadn’t been dancing in years, so I was excited, but also afraid that I wouldn’t be asked to dance. To my surprise there were many people in their forties attending and a couple of guys did ask me to dance. One was a fantastic dancer. After a fast dance, three couples stopped us and asked how long my husband and I had been dancing together. We laughed and confessed that this was the first time. At the end of the evening, when Gene asked for my phone number, I gave it to him. He called the following Tuesday evening and asked me to a movie on Friday night. After the movie we picked up some ice cream and headed to my house.

As I filled the coffee pot and turned it on, Gene got out the dessert bowls. Then he asked, “What drawer is your silverware in?”

Looking over towards him, I froze. He was standing with his back to me in front of the counter and the silverware drawer. The outline of his body was an exact match to the foggy blurred image that I had seen a month ago. When I didn’t answer right away, he turned around and asked, “Are you okay?”

Recovering fast and smiling, I assured him that I was. Later as I put the cups, bowls, and silverware in the dishwasher, Gene went into the family room and all of a sudden I heard “Angels We Have Heard on High.”

He was playing my keyboard and singing. As I went over to him, he asked me, “Why are you crying?”

Unaware that tears were streaming down my face, I simply replied, “The music is back.”

I explained how I had pushed music out of my life after the death of my brother, but now I was ready to welcome it back. He brought over his guitar that weekend and told me he had the gift of playing it and his other instruments by ear. It was stunning how his talents resembled those of my brother. We started practicing songs, and not long after we began playing and singing duets in church.

The following June we played and sang to each other “The Wedding Pledge” and “You’re My Best Friend” at our wedding. Once again music was a big part of my life and my family and friends loved it. Moving into our new home was like déjà vu as my husband set up his guitar, set of drums, harmonicas, and piano in the family room. Bowing my head I whispered, “Thank you, thank you, I could not ask for more.”

~Brenda Cathcart-Kloke

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