Goal: 2018 things for which to be thankful in 2018Thankful Thursday 02
2018 divided by 52 equals 38.8.
Each Thankful Thursday post should contain a list of 39 gratitudes, an average of five or six every day.
This Thursday, I’m departing from the numbered list. I have just spent two hours watching an old movie on TCM, That Midnight Kiss, with José Iturbi. It brought back a million memories for which I am grateful.
The year after this movie was made, my mother, her mother, and I traveled by train to Los Angeles. My mother’s younger brother, his wife, and young daughter lived there.
While we were there, we attended a concert at the Hollywood Bowl and heard José Iturbi and the orchestra. At one point in the concert, he was playing a Debussy that every serious piano student learns. But he was not happy with the beginning, so he stopped. Then he turned to the audience, shrugged, and announced “We will begin again.” He wiped his hands on his handkerchief, turned to the keyboard, and played flawlessly through the piece.
After the concert, my mother asked an usher if we could go backstage and meet the artist. The usher explained that José did not see people after the concert. Said she wanted it for me (I was eleven at the time). The usher smiled and said he’d see what he could do. He left and came back very shortly to take us backstage. He said José was always available to young people.
When he emerged from his dressing room, my mother introduced herself and the rest of our party (my grandmother and uncle). He greeted us all graciously. But he came over to me to visit. He asked if I played. I shook my head, no. But my mother outed me by saying that I did.
I stammered that in comparison, I did not play. He took my hand in both of his and said “The only difference between your hand and mine is practice, practice, practice.” It was three in the morning when we left, but I was walking on air.
Four years later, he and his sister, Amparo, were on tour and played at Salina, Kansas. Several of the musicians in our high school band and our director attended. In this much smaller venue, we were allowed to go back stage. Our music director introduced the group, but José remembered me from the Hollywood Bowl four years earlier. He took me by the hand and led me into his sister’s dressing room to introduce me to Amparo as well.
My mother was amazed that he remembered us from the Los Angeles concert. We rationalized that it must have been the fact the he didn’t usually receive people there.
Flash forward another four years to my first year in college. My piece for the student recital is a Beethoven. I play the first sixteen bars and my memory hits a brick wall. Remembering José’s poise, I pick up my handkerchief, wipe my hands, turn to the audience and shrug. Then I start again… And hit the same brick wall! Deep breath, nod to the audience and say “we will begin again.” Then I push my way past that bar seventeen wall and get to bar twenty-four where I’m home free.
My mother, sitting beside the nun who was my piano instructor, said “Well, there goes a failing grade.” To which sister replied, “No, it’s a B. Had she walked off the stage, it would have been a failure.”
Whenever one of José’s movies is playing on TCM, I try to watch. The spirit in his music speaks to my heart. The memory of the person blesses me every time.
In this story there are a multitude of gratitudes.
- My mother’s job with the railroad
- People who appreciate music
- The ability to hear the difference between music and just sound
- Hands that move across a keyboard on command
- Written score
- The habit of practice
- Mae Cuddy, my first piano teacher
- Harry Huber, my second piano teacher
- Marymount College
- The example of recovering from a gaffe
- The gift of memory
- The love of music
- God’s provision for even the smallest problems
- Watching the movie without interruption (a rare occurrence)
- José Iturbi
- Mario Lanza
- Kathryn Grayson
- Ethel Barrymore
- Jules Munshin
- The ability to laugh
- All these gratitudes from just one memory.
And I have a lifetime of these good memories. Thank You, Lord.