Sunday, October 6, 2013

A Friend For Grace- Part TEN

Hand in hand, Wilhelm and I walked out of the barn and into the house looking for Papa. As we neared our wooden home I sent up a heartfelt prayer, hoping Papa would be in an agreeable mood. Sure, lately, he'd been a bit more approachable and slightly kind but he still wasn't the father I knew he could be to my sisters and I or even to Wilhelm. He was still distant and his face was always creased with unhappiness. It seemed that music was the only thing that could cheer him up. And having Wilhelm here also cheered him up. Maybe Wilhelm's arrival wasn't only a blessing for me but for Papa as well. Maybe Wilhelm was the son Papa never had but always wanted. Maybe, just maybe, this little German boy was the answer to prayers long petitioned and not yet answered. I hoped that this was the case

Wilhelm must have noticed the small tear that had escaped and now rolled down my face. 

"You a'right Miss Grace?"

I quickly swiped away a second tear with the back of my hand and answered, "You don't have to keep calling me Miss Grace, you know. I'm you're sister now okay? And yes Wilhelm, I'm fine. I was just thinking about how happy I am that you're here, living with us. I truly believe that God sent you because He knows that we need you.

Wilhelm's eyes clouded at the mention of God and the muscles in his jaw tightened, but before I could ask why, he quickly answered, "Really Miss Grace? You're glad I'm here?"

I raised and eyebrow at his using the term Miss again but let it go. He was trying to get used to having a loving family again. I understood that. "Yes I am Wilhelm. Your coming here has softened my Papa's calloused heart, if even only a bit. Seeing this change in him, as slight as it may be, I know that greater things are still to come of him and for our family and that includes you Wilhelm."

I smiled down at him and opened the door jamp. It was nigh mid day so Papa should be in washing up for lunch. I heard a rustle in the kitchen and knew that was him. In all honesty, my father was a frightening man of 6'2 with long, powerful strides. I could tell that once upon a time his now dim blue eyes sparkled with good humored mischief and fun. Now, his scowl alone could make any perfectly poised girl cry. I was used to it though.

I silently inched closer to him and said, "Excuse me Papa."

He grunted something along the lines of, "What do you want." while drying his hands on a checkered dishrag.

Instead of shrieking back in fear at his lack of enthusiasm, I held my head up high and asked, "Will you allow Wilhelm to play the violin for us tonight? He's very good and has even played under the teaching of Johannes Brahms, an accomplished violinist from Germany.

Papa's already deeply set scowl became even more feirce… if that were possible but his response shocked me. "Well, I don't see why not. He'd better be real careful with it though."

Though it wasn't the ecstatic response I hoped for, he had still given his permission. That was a big step in the right direction.
"Wilhelm, did you enjoy dinner tonight?" Mama asked with a smirk on her face as she began clearing the dishes. The boy had scarfed down his steak and onions and this plate was as shiny as a mirror. Mama's cooking was the best and she knew it. Hearing Wilhelm, muffled "Yes'm"confirmed what she already knew to be true. 

"Well Wilhelm, are you going to play or not. We're all waiting to hear what that fancy man taught you." Papa's comment, as rough as it sounded was surprisingly, an eager petition to begin the evening ritual of violin playing at our house.

Wilhelm nodded and got up to the where Papa kept his violin safely tucked away as we all gathered around him. He pulled the instrument out and caressed the shined wooden handle and horse hair strings. His hands moved to the tuning pegs and he rotated several of them until he smiled and said sheepishly, "This song, Hungarian Dance No. 1" was one of Mater's favorites.

He bagan playing. I held my breath hoping that the skills he told me has possessed were indeed as refined as I had imagined. He played a beautiful tune, one that was so alive! It lacked the melancholy I saw etched on Wilhelm face. Perhaps it was the unhappy memories this particular song brought to his mind. But as he reached the climax of this piece, I saw him smile and his eyes twinkled like never before. He was enjoying himself. I looked around the room, at the faces of my family members and saw that they too were genuinely enjoying themselves and Wilhelm's playing. I smiled at him as he began playing more rapidly; his chords sounding like a buzzing bumblebee. When he had finished, he took a bow and walked back the upper shelf where Papa kept the violin. As he faced us all again we clapped for him. I sat there amazed at what I had just witnessed. Wilhelm was a young boy, yes, but his talents were obvious. The boy was a prodigy! 

Papa congratulated him with neutral words, "That was pretty impressive boy. I liked it. Maybe you can play again tomorrow night." 
If you'd like to hear Johannes Brahms' "Hungarian Dance No. 1", the piece Wilhelm played in the story, just click here to hear the audio on YouTube.