By Bruce Stambaugh
The young woman beautifully played the piano her parents had purchased from us earlier in the year. As my friend Sharon Randall would say, I wish you could have been there to hear her.
The moment was so much more than marvelous. Never could I have anticipated being the audience for this impromptu recital.
A set of unusual and timely circumstances led me to this setting. It’s a tale of just how interconnected we all are.
My friend Ava hitched a ride to Virginia with my wife and me for a short visit with her family. When her friends in the Shenandoah Valley learned Ava would soon be returning to Ohio with us, she became the courier of a gift for an injured boy.
As we traveled home, Ava related to us who the recipient of the package was. The boy had been seriously hurt in an auto accident that had killed his mother. When Ava told us where the gift was to go, we were astonished. We knew the family, especially the father. I offered to deliver the gift personally.All of this ran through my mind as the young woman caressed the keys that produced the mesmerizing song. Victoria passionately played “River Flows in You” as her mother and I stood silently admiring both the devotion and the soothing music while the pianist’s little sister quietly played with dolls in the background.
My wife and I had known Victoria’s father Lonnie since he was born two hours before our daughter four decades ago. Their cribs stood side-by-side in the hospital nursery. Our lives had overlapped in multiple ways we couldn’t even have imagined. This moment was the latest.
Lonnie was one of my former students. His friendly family had welcomed me into their home as principal and friend many times. I was the first responder to arrive at the scene of an industrial accident that took the fingers of Lonnie’s left hand. I responded to the house fire that badly burned Lonnie’s mother. I gladly served as a driver for family members during both hospitalizations.
This family had endured a lot. Still, Lonnie’s daughter played so passionately that I could not have wiped that broad smile of satisfaction off of my face if I had wanted to.
Tears flooded my eyes as Victoria tenderly tapped the last lingering note. The connected circumstantial dots wove a human tapestry of love that brought me to this cherished moment. Gratitude couldn’t begin to describe my emotions.I was so glad I had had the privilege of delivering this gift for this healing boy, and to hear Victoria’s playing. I could clearly see that our former piano was in the right hands.
I had made the gift’s delivery a priority, partly because I didn’t want to forget about it. I didn’t know, however, that the youngster was coming home from the hospital that same day. I’m sure that whatever was inside that brightly wrapped box would bring the young boy as much pleasure as I had just experienced.
I’ve told this story for both its face value and its intrinsic value, not for vanity’s sake or personal gratification. That came from listening to Victoria.
I’m certain you have similar tales to tell. It’s the way life was meant to be. A river flows in you and me. We need to ensure that the confluence of our individual streams creates a harmonious symphony for all to enjoy.
© Bruce Stambaugh 2016