Roy Exum: My Guest Columnists

Thursday, April 25, 2019 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

Every day I get over 100 emails. Add what I find in My Morning Readings and I am a good candidate to be “Mr. Inspiration.” I have tried to figure out a way to pass some of what I believe are “The Wonders of Life” like I now do on weekends with “The Saturday Funnies.” You would have no idea how popular those jokes have become and several readers say they are the best thing I write but … wait! … I don’t write them, I just go to the pile and cut-and-paste. I can only wish I were as funny.

Today’s dilemma is what do I do with something that comes along and knocks me to my knees? As my regular Internet fans know, I try to pass them along ever so often. Today you’ll hear from a retired piano teacher in Des Moines, Iowa, and an unknown writer who wants to be a bear in the next lifetime. I’ve even got a barrister from the Congo who claims he has $23 million headed my way if only I’ll send my Social Security information, my bank account numbers and my physical mailing address.

I share these in hopes that just as the Saturday Funnies make us laugh, you’ll join me in relishing “The Wonders of Life.”

* * *

MISS HONOR, THE PIANO TEACHER IN DES MOINES

At the prodding of my friends I am writing this story. My name is Mildred Honor. I am a former elementary school music teacher from Des Moines, Iowa. I have always supplemented my income by teaching piano lessons... something I have done for over 30 years. During those years, I found that children have many levels of musical ability, and even though I have never had the prodigy, I have taught some very talented students. However, I have also had my share of what I call 'Musically Challenged Pupils'.

One such pupil being Robby. Robby 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 Robby. But Robby said that it had always been his mother's dream to hear him play the piano, so I took him as a student.

At the end of each weekly lesson he would always say 'My mom's going to hear me play someday.'  But to me, it seemed hopeless, he just did not have any inborn ability. I only knew his mother from a distance as she dropped Robby off or waited in her aged car to pick him up. She always waved and smiled, but never dropped in.

Then one day Robby stopped coming for his lessons. I thought about calling him, but assumed that because of his lack of ability he had decided to pursue something else. I was also glad that he had stopped coming. He was a bad advertisement for my teaching!

Several weeks later I mailed a flyer recital to the students' homes. To my surprise, Robby (who had received a flyer) asked if he could be in the recital. I told him that the recital was for current pupils and that because he had dropped out, he really did not qualify.

He told me that his mother had been sick and unable to take him to his piano lessons, but that he had  been practicing. 'Please Miss Honor, I've just got to play,' he insisted. I don't know what led me to allow him to play in the recital - perhaps it was his insistence or maybe something inside of me saying that it would be all right.

The night of the recital came and the high school gymnasium was packed with parents, relatives and friends. I put Robby last in the program, just before I was to come up and thank all the students and play a finishing  piece. I thought that any damage he might 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 Robby came up on the stage. His clothes were wrinkled and his hair looked as though he had run an egg beater through it. 'Why wasn't he dressed up like the other students?' I thought. 'Why didn't his Mother at least make him comb his hair for this special night?'

Robby pulled out the piano bench, and I was surprised when he announced that he had chosen to play Mozart's Concerto No.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 anyone 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 Robby in joy.

'I have never heard you play like that Robby, how did you do it? Through the microphone Robby explained:  'Well, Miss Honor, remember I told you that my mom was sick? Well, she actually had cancer and passed away this morning. And well... she was born deaf, so tonight was the first time she had ever heard me play, and I wanted to make it special.'

There wasn't a dry eye in the house that evening. As people from Social Services led Robby from the stage to be placed in to foster care, I noticed that even their eyes were red and puffy. I thought to myself then how much richer my life had been for taking Robby as my pupil.

No, I have never had a prodigy, but that night I became a prodigy ... of Robby. He was the teacher and I was the pupil, for he had taught me the meaning of perseverance and love and believing in yourself, and may be even taking a chance on someone and you didn't know why.

POSTSCRIPT: Robby was killed years later in the senseless bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in April, 1995.

* * *

FROM THE LADY WHO WANTS TO BE A BEAR

[note: My special friend Sandy Pohfal sends this one from Texas.]

In this life, I'm a woman. In my next life, I'd like to come back as a bear. When you're a bear, you get to hibernate. You do nothing but sleep for six months. I could deal with that.

Before you hibernate, you're supposed to eat yourself stupid. I could deal with that too.

When you're a girl bear, you birth your children (who are the size of walnuts) while you're sleeping and wake to partially grown, cute, cuddly cubs. I could definitely deal with that.

If you're mama bear, everyone knows you mean business. You swat anyone who bothers your cubs. If your cubs get out of line, you swat them too. I could deal with that.

If you're a bear, your mate EXPECTS you to wake up growling. He EXPECTS that you will have hairy legs and excess body fat.

Yup, gonna be a bear!

~  Author Unknown  ~

* * *

"Your success and happiness lie within you. Resolve to keep happy. Your joy will form an invincible host against difficulties." -- Helen Keller.

royexum@aol.com


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