Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: JOIE DE VIVRE (delight in being alive) (08/18/16)
TITLE: Sing Every Verse
By Jody Day
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“Good morning, Happy, how are you?” Mr. Harrigan noticed her platform shoes. The heels, filled with beads, rattled when she walked. He wondered what happened to the water and live goldfish that she walked on yesterday. The students named them Romeo and Juliet.
“Great, thank you for coming early. You’d think someone who’d been playing piano for eighty years wouldn’t have so much trouble with this.” She pulled a chair up to his desk and sat down, and then let her books sprawl every which way atop Mr. Harrigan’s papers, nearly spilling his morning coffee.
He lifted the cup from the danger zone just in time. He smiled that she didn’t seem to notice the almost disaster, but crossed her legs, rattling shoe beads. She always dressed just like the students and today her jeans were topped with a t-shirt that read “Sing Every Verse.”
He worked with her for a few minutes until the Circle of Fifths made sense to her. He loved to see the light come on in her eyes. He may be only thirty-five, but he had never had the fire that Happy seemed to radiate. Maybe she just felt lucky to be her age and still be able to get around and have her mind in tact. He’d had other elderly students in his classes before, but none like Happy.
“I wanted to ask you, Happy, about your t-shirt. I noticed that your email signature is Sing Every Verse, Happy. What does that mean to you?” He stood and helped her gather her things.
“Oh, Lord, honey, that’s a good story. My little old daddy was the song leader in our church when I was growing up. He got a letter in the mail from one of the deacons saying he needed to go to a meeting. They were going to evaluate his work performance,” she said, eyes wide with mirth. Her cheeks, which wrinkled even more when she grinned, were donned with quite a supply of blush. She didn’t continue, but seemed lost in the memory.
“And?” The rest of the class would appear soon, and he really wanted to hear this.
“Well, the meeting went pretty well. It seems the biggest complaint was that my little old daddy would lead the hymns including the third verse.” She scrunched up her face into a severe frown. “You include the third verse, instead of just one, two, and four like you are supposed to,” she mocked in a growling, authoritative voice, then she erupted into giggles.
“Wow, that’s being rather picky, don’t you think?” From what Harrigan had seen from his own experience as church pianist, nothing had changed much in church in that regard. Always something.
“That whole experience kind of made my dad feel suffocated. It hurt him that the deacons tried to put God and the whole congregation in a box. Sing Every Verse came to mean ‘live life to the fullest’ in our house. By the way, have you read some of the third verses of the old hymns? Amazing, inspiring stuff there.”
“So, how do you do that, sing every verse, I mean.” He looked at his watch.
“Oh, you know, when you have the Holy Spirit, joy just bubbles up,” she said, eyes sparkling again.
No, he didn’t know. Perhaps he should, but his prodigy piano skills had made him a hired musician in church all his life. He never really got the whole Jesus thing. Maybe he’d get the courage to ask her in one of their early tutoring sessions.
“So we always sang the third verse in our family. Then we just got obsessive about it and started doing all things different. It was quite a fun growing up. We would always order something we hadn’t had before if we ate out. We always searched for a different route to the church. Daddy always looked to meet different people, visit other churches, learn new things. That bringing up just stuck with me. There’s always something new to do and learn. I’ll have to live to be 150 to accomplish all I want to do.”
“Well, I hope you do. By the way, what happened to Romeo and Juliet?”
“Belly up. Not all my “do something new” ideas work. But you can’t let that stop you.”
Amen, Happy, amen.
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