For Gayle: The Reprint of a Story Inspired by Music

Janet wasn’t sure why life seemed so complicated these days. Maybe it had to do with the way the wind was always blowing, tossing her short gray hair this way and that, and reminding her of happier times before Chet died. Chet, her husband of 35 years, who woke up one day and said he didn’t feel too well and was dead by nightfall. Chet, with his too-big ears and skinny legs and the warmest pair of arms on the planet, especially when she was feeling a bit blue and in need of some bolstering. But there was no bolstering now, just her own stern self-reliance and the love of music that kept her getting up every morning just so she could hear Handel’s Water Music or Copland’s Appalachian Spring. Ah, but that still didn’t account for the complications she was facing.

Mary Ann, her best friend of forty years, summed it up in one word: frustration. It was true that Janet felt slightly thwarted these days, particularly when it came to determining her new life path. She was a widow, after all, and not that young anymore, and she had to figure out how to make her way in the world without the person who had always keep her aiming in a positive direction. They had two sons, of course, but they were both married and had lives of their own. The last thing they needed was Mother hanging around demanding time and attention. So, that left what? That was where all the complications came in. What? Where? When?

Janet was clear about the when. Immediately, if not sooner. She couldn’t keep this uncertainty going too long. After all, that wasn’t healthy for her or anybody else. But what did she want? What could she do? She put on Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos to help her think. If only she could come up with something. She fell asleep to the music that soothed her soul and 30 minutes later woke up with a start. Of course! Why had she waited so long to even consider this idea?

Three days later, Janice packed her 2010 Prius with a few needed items: her favorite classical CDs, her oboe, which she enjoyed playing privately, and a suitcase full of warm clothes. She looked at her house – the home that Chet had designed at the height of his skill as an architect – and knew that this was her good-bye. She had made all the necessary arrangements with the realtor for the sale. She hugged beloved Mary Ann good-bye, her sweet friend who had insisted on coming over to see her off. Then Janet slid behind the wheel, gave one last wave to Mary Ann, and headed off with Mahlor’s 9th symphony blaring out of her car speakers.

She felt light, clear-headed and calm as she turned the car north to New York City. She would leave her car with her son in Newark and head off for Amsterdam on a flight the very next morning. What was she going to do? Visit the home of the finest symphony in all of Europe: The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. And then she would go to hear the next finest in Berlin, then Dresden, Vienna, Budapest, and to London. She would return via Los Angeles to hear the LA Phil then head to Chicago and on to Cleveland. She would spend her money on the one aspect of her life that brought her the most pleasure and perhaps she would find another person – a man – who loved this music as much as she did. But for now, that was of no concern.

She had a plan, she had hope, and best of all, her life was, for the first time in a while now, simple. And for that she felt grateful.

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2 thoughts on “For Gayle: The Reprint of a Story Inspired by Music”

  1. Oh, Len—-your story brought both a tear and a smile to my face—and both are good! We always love your writing, I hope you really know that.
    Gayle
    (BTW, my attempt to see the world by means of attending music festivals—well, it is still in the “strategic planning phase”, like so many other projects. So far, I’ve got two festivals lined up—and both of them are here in Virginia…so much for seeing the world!)

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