By Bruce Stambaugh
The day hadn’t gone well for either my wife or me. You would think that people our age would know enough not to let circumstances negatively influence our attitudes. But, hey, we’re human after all. We each succumbed to separate and sundry annoyances.
My wife had more reason to be upset than me. But I didn’t know that at the time. I was too consumed with my own pettiness. Men tend to do that, at least I do.
Neva volunteers at a local thrift store as a manager. While the store’s full-time managers were away on vacation, the credit card machine malfunctioned. Once Neva realized there was a significant issue regarding recording sales, she scrambled to correct the problem.
I was at home oblivious to all of this. The world was falling apart again, and I foolishly allowed myself to absorb too much of the toxic news.
Despite our individual funks, we each still had our usual grand-parenting duties to fulfill. I was responsible for transporting Neva’s premade, delicious casserole to our daughter’s place, putting it in the oven at the prescribed time and at the predetermined temperature. Neva would be there to ensure the meal got served.
I completed my assigned, simple duties and retreated to the sunroom. I sat on the couch still miffed. I stewed in my own self-made misery, absorbing more and more discouraging news. You would think a retired volunteer firefighter would know better than to throw gasoline onto a smoldering campfire.
Right after Neva arrived, an amazing thing happened. Our nine-year-old granddaughter entered the room, donned a pair of headsets and started to sing. Maren ignored everything else, focusing solely on getting each note just right, just the way she was hearing it sung through her headset. She was practicing for her children’s choir.
Her cheerful, innocent voice buoyed me. I threw all of my attention into admiring her determination, her concentration, her ambition, her appreciation for each tune, the lyrics, the opportunity to merely sing.
I resisted the urge to photograph and record the impromptu mini-concert. Instead, I just sat in admiration and joy, breathing and smiling. It was then that I realized something critical. I had forgotten about “my problems.” I realized they weren’t problems. I also understood the importance of what I was witnessing. This young lady singing her heart out was all that I needed, all that mattered.
Maren sang and sang until Neva couldn’t contain herself any longer. She interrupted the spontaneous concert to compliment Maren. Besides, suppertime was near.
I felt fortunate to have been witness to this spontaneous musical interlude of Maren’s. It was a heavenly reprieve from the messy noise of today’s world. I wish you could have been there, too.
There was a lesson there, not just for me, but all of us caught up in the heat of the moment, in the avalanche of information that streams from our televisions, radios, computers, cell phones, laptops, and any other electronic device to which we are tethered.
In the beginning, I had allowed hopelessness and despair to rule the moment. In the end, a time of earnest, uplifting singing transformed my heart and soul. I live for moments like these.
My granddaughter’s singing reminded me to live in the moment, breathe, and listen. Those are the ingredients for a beautiful day every day no matter the nature of the news.
© Bruce Stambaugh 2018
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