I have no pictures today. But I've taken a mammoth step and offered my services as a pianist to our church next year. True - I've been playing the piano since I was 5 years old and was able to crawl up on the piano bench in my grandmother's parlor. True - I took piano lessons for years from Miss Georgia Shaw who was not only a great pianist but a wonderful violinist as well. She also taught me to play the church organ and I'm really hoping that some of her teachings come back to me.
I'll never forget Miss Shaw. Two bucks a lesson and she was the kindest, gentlest person I've ever met - then and now. She made me believe that I was never less than wonderful. And I think every kid should believe that about themselves in some area. I'm not so sure whether she taught me nearly as much about the piano as she did about life. She had polio when she was a child which left her bent over nearly into an upside down U. She wasn't married. She obviously loved kids which was why she taught us all how to play the piano. She often told me stories about her life and I don't think I ever remember her saying anything negative about her life or about anyone. She was the happiest, most optimistic person I have ever met. She taught me that stuff happens to people - really bad stuff - and yet we muddle through. We survive to play beautiful, beautiful music. She taught me that I didn't need to be perfect as long as I put my heart into it.
Miss Georgia Shaw taught me that music was the great equalizer but I failed to see at the time what she meant by this. When Miss Shaw played her violin or the magnificent pipe organ for me, she was not a little, bentover person with a hairy chin - she was.........larger than life and in my ears anyway, she was perfection. No violin or organ has ever sounded so sweet to my ears.
So in memory of my piano teacher who believed in me regardless of the missed lessons, of coming in smelling of cigarette smoke, of giggling throughout my lesson, or my obvious lack of practice, I've promised my church that when needed, I would play the piano for them and for her.
So I will be praying - fervently. And I hope that I will receive some other prayers along the way because I'm going to need them. It is one thing to have shaky hands while singing, but while playing the piano - shaky hands are not so good.
So my first song is for you, Miss Shaw. Thank you for your patience in showing me the beauty of music.