By Vickey Stamps
The old man cradled his violin over his heart, the rosined strings to the bow freshly applied. Now he stepped down as gently as he could upon his arthritic legs, grateful there were only a few steps to the sidewalk. The home was older than he was, and he thought perhaps that was enough to say about it.
It was the deep dusk, just after sunset and before the dark of true night. He had finished up a brief performance with a local bluegrass music band, replacing an ill member. It didn't matter a great deal to him what music rose from his touch, be it bluegrass or a symphony. It mattered only in the notes that came forward, flowing up into the air around him and covering him with the sounds.
Emma, his beloved late wife, used to sit quietly in their home as he played one tune after another, standing before the hearth, whether a fire burned within or not.
It didn't seem like it had already been five years since the Lord had lifted her up from her sick bed, and carried her away. She had only had a lung infection. Now he only saw her in his mind. He smiled to himself, thinking he would play for her at their favorite place to visit. The park was just a few blocks away.
A willow tree, with its leaf-filled limbs hanging down, clothed in green finery, nearly touched the ground. Other trees kept it company in the old park, but seemed not to make quite the statement the willow did.
By the sidewalk, fronting the street, sat the old bench with its wrought iron arms and backing. Its aged and once splintered wooden seat worn thin and smooth by those who stopped to rest and ponder while sitting upon its surface. He and his wife Emma, had their share of conversations while there. It was almost always about their grown up family and the world in general. He could almost see her gentle smile and the twinkle of her eyes as they shared a bit of humor between themselves.
Now he fitted the violin beneath his chin, closing his eyes and waiting for the inspiration to come. It would not be long. He knew that to be a true thing. Unbeknown to him, a young couple watched him in the shadows, from beneath the leaves of the willow tree. They had come to snuggle there and talk of their caring for one another. Their love was a thing only recently discovered. Her head rested on his shoulder. His arms were around her in a gentle expression of a new and young love. They sat there in silence, waiting for the performance to begin.
Soon, tender, gentle, softly sad notes rose up, following one after another, the bow bending itself to make the music. Had the willow tree been able, at that time, to truly weep, it would surely have done so.
Even insects inside the trees bark peeked out to see what was going on. A ground squirrel raised its head above its burrow, fully intending to chastise the human for disrupting its rest, but instead, sank its head down upon the grass and let the notes soothe it as well.
The young woman's tears began to pour forth, for surely the old man was playing a love song for them. Her tears wet her sweetheart's shirt, upon which she had leaned her head. He gathered her closer in care and reassurance as the love song continued. It made him think of the world and what he could do to become a better part of it. Perhaps tomorrow he would participate in more good will to his fellowman. He would think of the old man's music and, perhaps, be more caring.
The fiddlers chest had begun to ache and he thought perhaps he would stop now, instead of playing another song and maybe rest for awhile on the old bench. Funny how much more than in all his previous visits, had his Emma's presence been felt. She seemed to sit quietly in the center of the bench, just where she had sat in real life. It was if she wished him to come there and take her hand. He thought perhaps he would do that and he did.
The young couple quietly left without being detected from their cover under the old tree. The insects hid again behind the bark and the ground squirrel returned to tell his family about the concert he had attended.
Meanwhile, Emma leaned her gray head against her husband's shoulder and reached for his hand. The patrolman would find the old man there later, and wonder why he had passed away alone and perhaps unloved. He would not know the Creator had sent Emma to bring him home.
The old fiddle would find a new home as would the bow. It would surely bring with it a sense of love, for that was all it had known in its Fiddle life. And life was good…
By Vickey Stamps