Thursday, April 01, 2010

For Mrs. Kemp

There was a line of ladies who tried to teach me to play the piano. By “tried” here I mean “tried with pretty much no success”…Totally not their fault of course; I’d rather have been riding my bike or swimming or shooting hoops or something than practicing piano. Which is but one of several ways I was a fool back then…Hope I’ve changed a bit!

I am very grateful to all of them, even though my piano skills never got above “meager” and time hasn’t helped. I do love a piano being played, and wish I could play. (Which is one of MANY things Mom said that I should’ve listened to…)

Anyway, I’ve been thinking on this because one of those dear ladies recently left us. Her end was hard, and her leaving was merciful. Still, she will be greatly missed by many. Some are former piano students like me…others will remember her teaching elementary school music…others are close friends of hers, like Mom…But mostly, she’ll be missed by her three sons.

One of those sons taught me to play the saxophone when I was in 6th grade. He had more success teaching me a musical instrument than his Mother did, but I still never got near his level of skill.

Another of those sons is my age and we had many an adventure along the way. I remember laughing HARD with him. Mostly we behaved…mostly, I say.

The third is younger than I, and I also remember laughing with him. I hear he still plays music, which somehow is pretty cool just now.

There was another brother the age of my brother who left us some years back.

These guys had an AWESOME mother. She was such a gentle soul with such a delicate touch on the keyboard, but also on life and on people. I’m not aware of a single person that disliked her, which is quite a remarkable feat.

Amazingly talented musically, but never chose to flaunt that talent. She was very well-schooled musically, and I recall her enjoying a wide variety of styles.

She was soft-spoken, which trait will be immediately recalled by all who knew her.

She loved her boys; all four of them.

She loved her friends. She & my Mom, for example, clicked rather quickly and stayed “clicked” until this great lady left us & went to be with her Lord a couple of weeks ago.

She loved her students. Again, soft-spoken, even when it became clear I hadn’t practiced the week’s piano lesson, or when the elementary school class was not focusing.

I’ve not seen her for years, which causes me much regretful sorrow now.

I hope…I really hope…she knew how fond I was—am—of her, despite my not demonstrating that very often nor very well.

As I say, her last days were painful and hard, and the end was merciful. Have I told you lately how much cancer sucks? *sigh*

And thus, my brother & I will be down at Mom’s this weekend, not for Easter, but for a memorial service for a wonderful lady who means a lot to my family. While I *hate* the circumstances, I am very much looking forward to re-connecting with her three sons in person. Mom fed two of them tonight, but I couldn't get here in time to join that meal. The memorial service is Saturday morning, after which there will be another service up in her native Atmore, AL. Since my children will be home, I’m heading back after the service in Ft. Walton Beach.

Rest assured, the ipod will land on some nice classical and jazz piano Saturday on the way back (think Rachmaninoff and Oscar Peterson), as I thank God for the life & influence & legacy of a teacher, a pianist, a mother, an encourager, a prayer warrior, and a friend of mine and of my Mom’s.

Rest in peace, Mrs. Kemp! Your life and your faith mattered, and you added music to this world. What higher obit could one want, after all?

With fond memories,


p.s. – join me in praying for Charles, Tom, & Robert, won’t you? And in praying for Mom and the others who are saying goodbye to a great friend.

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