She was cute; pale blue eyes, petit (her feet barely touched the floor), chin length platinum hair. She wore a pink t-shirt that said, Music Is My Life.
We sat perpendicular to each other against the walls of the reception area.
I asked if she was a musician. I had to repeat the question. She didn’t seem to hear very well.
She said she played the cello. We spoke briefly of Yoyo Ma and touched on Yehudi Menuin.
We had to talk louder than the rest of the people waiting because of the distance between us.
She said it was O.K. if I sat next to her. So, I moved.
She showed me three fingers on her right hand bent with rheumatoid arthritis.
“But that’s my bow hand!” she said while wiggling the fingers of her left hand
She said she began playing cello in fourth grade. Less than one year later she lost hearing in her left ear but continued to play. Seventy one years later, she was still at it.
She said she closely identified with Beethoven because he was deaf. “You DO know that Beethoven was deaf, don’t you?” I said yes.
A dreamy look slowly morphed onto the surface of her face. Her lids barely fluttered. She raised her chin a tiny fraction. Her face brightened. A look of joy came and went like wind threading its way through a field of summer wheat.
She told me, “Sometimes I feel I was born to play Beethoven.”
I told her I recently heard Beethven’s First Symphony.
“Can you imagine how people felt after hearing that first symphony!” she said. “People had not heard music so powerful and beautiful at that time in history. They must have left the concert hall stunned at what they heard.”
I was about to ask her if she thought there was significance to the fact that many of the great symphonies have odd numbers when my name was called.
We shook hands. Her pale blue eyes looked up at me the look of bliss still on her face looking grateful she could talk about what she loved the most.
Walking away I heard those four familiar notes at the beginning of the fifth symphony slowly rise into consciousness from somewhere deep inside where maybe all beauty lies waiting for us to call it to the surface.