Friday, March 13, 2009

Michael's Night

At the prodding of my friends, I am writing this story. My name is Mildred Hondorf. I am a former elementary school music teacher from Des Moines , Iowa . I've always supplemented my income by teaching piano lessons-something I've done for over 30 years. Over the years I found that children have many levels of musical ability. I've never had the pleasure of having a prodigy though I have taught some talented students.
However I've also had my share of what I call 'musically challenged' pupils. One such student was Michael. Michael was 11 years old when his mother (a single Mom) dropped him off for his first piano lesson. I prefer that students (especially boys!) begin at an earlier age, which I explained to Michael.
But Michael said that it had always been his mother's dream to hear him play the piano. So I took him as a student. Well, Michael began with his piano lessons and from the beginning I thought it was a hopeless endeavor. As much as Michael tried, he lacked the sense of tone and basic rhythm needed to excel.. But he dutifully reviewed his scales and some elementary pieces that I require all my students to learn.
Over the months he tried and tried while I listened and cringed and tried to encourage him. At the end of each weekly lesson he'd always say, ' My mom's going to hear me play someday.' But it seemed hopeless. He just did not have any inborn ability. I only knew his mother from a distance as she dropped Michael off or waited in her aged car to pick him up. She always waved and smiled but never stopped in.
Then one day Michael stopped coming to our lessons. I thought about calling him but assumed because of his lack of ability, that he had decided to pursue something else. I also was glad that he stopped coming. He was a bad advertisement for my teaching!
Several weeks later I mailed to the student's homes a flyer on the upcoming recital. To my surprise Michael (who received a flyer) asked me if he could be in the recital. I told him that the recital was for current pupils and because he had dropped out he really did not qualify. He said that his mother had been sick and unable to take him to piano lessons but he was still practicing. 'Miss Hondorf I've just got to play!' he insisted.
I don't know what led me to allow him to play in the recital. Maybe it was his persistence or maybe it was something inside of me saying that it would be all right. The night for the recital came. The high school gymnasium was packed with parents, friends and relatives. I put Michael up last in the program before I was to come up and thank all the students and play a finishing piece. I thought that any damage he would do would come at the end of the program and I could always salvage his poor performance through my 'curtain closer.'
Well, the recital went off without a hitch. The students had been practicing and it showed. Then Michael came up on stage. His clothes were wrinkled and his hair looked like he'd run an eggbeater through it. 'Why didn't he dress up like the other students?' I thought. ' Why didn't his mother at least make him comb his hair for this special night?'
Michael pulled out the piano bench and he began. I was surprised when he announced that he had chosen Mozart's Concerto #21 in C Major. I was not prepared for what I heard next. His fingers were light on the keys, they even danced nimbly on the ivories. He went from pianissimo to fortissimo. From allegro to virtuoso. His suspended chords that Mozart demands were magnificent! Never had I heard Mozart played so well by a person his age. After six and a half minutes he ended in a grand crescendo And everyone was on their feet in wild applause.
Overcome and in tears I ran up on stage and put my arms around Michael in joy. 'I've never heard you play like that Michael! How'd you do it? ' Through the microphone Michael explained: 'Well Miss Hondorf . .. Remember I told you my Mom was sick? Well, actually she had cancer and passed away this morning And well . . She was born deaf so tonight was the first time she ever heard me play. I wanted to make it special.'
There wasn't a dry eye in the house that evening. As the people from Social Services led Michael from the stage to be placed into foster care, I noticed that even their eyes were red and puffy, and I thought to myself how much richer my life had been for taking Michael as my pupil.
No, I've never had a prodigy but that night I became a prodigy. . Of Michael's! He was the teacher and I was the pupil for it is he that taught me the meaning of perseverance and love and believing in yourself and maybe even taking a chance in someone and you don't know why.
Michael was killed in the senseless bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in April of 1995.

Kiss the lovely face of God

End of a routine day, the taxi driver decided to go back home. Not many people in the street, it was a rainy dark night. He slowly was driving and turning to other street, where he met her, waiting under rain with clothes all wet. looking at his car with her big beautiful black eyes:”Main Square?” She said. He had to decide..
He stoped the car. It was not really his way. But he felt so sympathy for that girl. It was a dark and rainy night, much dangerous for alone women. She sat fast in back seat and kept silent. They started their journey to “Main Square”. Around half an hour he drove never looking back to see her. But suddenly he felt heat of body of a human next to his face. He turned his face. She was moving her lips slowly, like she whispers:”Can you take me to your home tonight? I am not expensive.“
It was a shock, Wasnt it? Maybe No, for it is normal for a taxi driver to see kind of girls. But she didn’t seem a girl really. She seemed to be wife, for the wedding ring she had. Yes, she had wedding ring. So what’s wrong with her?
-”Why you do this job?” He asked.
- “I had to bring money to house, If no, then my druggy husband will hit me like other night. “
He drove faster and turned to an alley and stopped the car. No way, she was beautiful. Yes, she was. And he remembered her big pretty eyes. His heart started beating. It was a challenge. Who cares? Who would know what happen to them? Who would see them?Suddenly face of a woman came into his mind. Oh, it was face of his wife, waiting for him at home like other nights. Too many thoughts coming and going. It was the first time he was feeling weakness about a woman. It was first time. Wasn’t it?How much God made him lucky for He remembered face of his wife, when he would arrive at home, she just finishes prayer, and comes to him with her praying clothes , with a sweet smile on her pretty face, that lovely smile which is all comfort, kindness and love for end of a long tiresome boring day. Isn’t it?
He had to decide..
“You ever heard anything about God?” He asked.She took a little mirror from her bag, looking at her face: “So so, not much. But i think that idiot has never heard about God till now. I mean my husband. Anyway i know many people who have never heard about God. I think God also has never heard about me!“He searched in his pockets, in his car, in his wallet. He gathered any money he had and he had obtained during the day, and put all in her hand. Even all coins he had: “Imagine my God has sent all of the money from sky into your hand.“She looked at him like enchanted person for sometime and closed her hand full of money. She opened door of car, gazed into his eyes. It was tear, he could see tears falling down, dancing slowly from her big black pretty eyes to her cheeks: “Kiss the lovely face of God for me!” Before closing door she said.