January 20, 2012

Shrinking the Generation Gap, Part Two

My son Galen loves to play for people, and he thoroughly enjoys playing with other musicians. To my continued amazement he thinks nothing of getting up in front of a large audience and performing whatever he has been rehearsing. He plays with a local orchestra and recently took part in a performance of Handel's Messiah with a youth ensemble. Practicing his violin is a daily solo effort, so he relishes the chance to get together with other like minded people to do what he loves best.

When our friend Diane asked him if he would consider playing some duets over the Holidays with her 95 year old friend and neighbour, Ella, the answer was "Sure!" Galen had heard me exclaim over Ella's talent and continued abiltity at the piano, and he had no reason to disbelieve me. Ella, on the other hand, had been informed of Galen's talent but it was clear she wasn't holding her breath. She had been sent musical partners recently and had been disappointed. She, however, agreed to give him a try and after a few more calls back and forth, a date was set for their musical meeting.

It was agreed that Galen and Ella would meet at her home at 2:00 p.m. the following Thursday for a one hour session. Diane and Jim would be away that day, but they were to leave me a key so I could go in their house for a cup of tea after letting out the chickens and herding the ducks into the garden. My youngest daughter Katie came with us and after we had dropped Galen off at Ella's, Katie and I went off to do our farm chores. The rest of the hour passed quickly with me stoking the fire in the kitchen wood stove and enjoying some tea, and with Katie discovering a Garfield comic book in the house.

We pulled the car around the circular driveway in front of Ella's and peeked in the living room window. Ella and Galen were in the middle of a piece and so, not wanting to disturb them, Katie and I stayed outside to listen. From where we stood the duo sounded great and we let them finish. They noticed us but started another piece at Ella's request. Katie and I continued to stand awkwardly outside the window, enjoying the sounds coming from inside and the view of Ella's diminutive, incredibly animated form at the Steinway grand piano. The hour was stretching by the minute and fearing that Ella would soon grow tired I knocked on the door at what I thought was an appropriate moment.

The door was opened and we entered the foyer. Ella's face was full of excitement. She clapped her hands together and exclaimed, "I had heard Galen was good, but not this good! I made so many mistakes. I was so amazed I just wanted to stop and listen to him. So much talent! How? Where? From whom did he get such talent?" she demanded.

"I do have a very musical family," I said.

"My goodness. And you! Don't you play the piano?" she asked.

"Yes, but not very well. Let's just say I have a nice touch." I said. "He gets his discipline and goal-driven determination from his father."

Ella continued to talk about the session in a disjointed way; I think she was rather stunned by how it had gone. I do not think she ever expected Galen to be so accomplished, not at his age, not of his generation, perhaps. She also questioned Katie about her piano lessons and encouraged her to carry on.

"I'm sure Galen would like to play with you again, if you would like to," I said.

"Do you?" she said. "I would think he might not after all the mistakes I made. I'm afraid I was not very good today." She laughed and abashedly put a wrinkled but fine hand over her mouth.

Galen assured her that he would like to, and we all left it at that.

We have not heard from Ella since that day, but I do hope she will give playing with Galen another try. During a phone call the next day, Diane and Jim assured us that Ella had indeed been delighted with the session, and that she probably needs some time to let the experience sink in.

At the very least, even if she decides not to invite Galen for another session, I hope this disappointing world appears just a little bit brighter since that afternoon.
I leave you with another great Victor Borge clip, this time another unlikely but successful duet. Enjoy!
Wishing you a wonderful weekend.


  1. Loved it! I could picture the two of them together, next time try to get a picture.

  2. You and your family continue to give joy to all generations, Rebecca. They (and you) are truly unique, talented and simply put, good and kind people. You couldn't ask for more!

  3. Kate: It will probably have to be taken outside the window :)

    Roxanne: You are so kind!

  4. She probably liked the kid but found the pair lurking a bit weird. You would, and you're not half her age. :-D
    Why didn't you park your backside in the car 'til he came out. Or ring him, for don't tell me he's the only teen on the milky way without a mobile.

  5. Vince: Oh haha...'the pair lurking'. None of my children nor I have a mobile, as you call it (cell phone in North America). My husband is the only one with one of those, believe it or not, in our family, and it is paid for through his work. It just doesn't seem urgent for us, in this small town to have one. My daughter downloaded a texting app for her ipod touch and since we have wi-fi, she can text with her friends and check her facebook to her heart's content...so she is appeased for the time being :) I've thought of getting one of those 'pay-as-you-go phones' but I just haven't got around to it, frankly.

  6. I just wanted to say Hi and thank you for your lovely and moving comment on my blog. I'm very sad that your sister-in-law was not as lucky as me, I think I knew that already. I really do count myself as lucky, and when I remember that not everyone survives to tell their story, I resolve all over again to value the days I have - every minute of them.

  7. What a great story! I really enjoyed reading your interpretation of everything, and I'm thinking that the session was extra special for Ella. What an inspiration at 95! And Galen - great kid!

  8. Hi Kate: Yes, I've written about Lea before. And, you're welcome!

    Abby: Thanks for reading! She is an inspiration!

  9. smiles..i am sure it made a great impact on her as many of these ray of hope moments do...there is def a lot of good in the world it just does not always get the same press as the other...you know...


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