Did you enjoy the concert?

I hope you don’t mind if I sit here for a moment. I’ve been running around town all day and I really do need to sit for a moment.

I didn’t think you would mind.

You don’t look like the kind of person who would mind.

I saw you come out of the church.

Did you enjoy the concert?

They have good concerts. My father was the pastor. I grew up just over there, in that house over there. Of course it was a lot different then. There weren’t as many people then. It was all farms except for the gas station and post office and store run by my uncle but you could drive to bigger towns because the bigger towns weren’t really that far and the roads were good. My father said it was the roads that were bringing in more people. Good roads. More and more people all the time. New houses springing up everywhere. Kept us busy. My father was always working, organizing things, welcoming newcomers and meeting people who wanted to join the church. People kept coming. Different, they were. From the city. Some brought their own churches with them.

Am I disturbing you? I’m not, am I? I see that your trying to read. You will let me know if I’m disturbing you, won’t you?

It’s still such a beautiful church. We used to paint it every year. We had a big picnic. Papa and the men would paint the church and the moms would cook. The kids got to paint the fence. It’s still there, parts of it, on the other side. The very fence we painted. Of course most of it disappeared when the county widened the road and put in the sidewalk.

I got married in that church. My father was dead by then. He had a heart attack. He had a bad heart, my mother said. I was a little girl, then. I didn’t understand how a man of God could have a bad heart. We had music at the wedding. A string quartet.

Ah, the music. The music. My husband loved the music.

We always had music in church.

That’s what they had today, wasn’t it? A string quartet? I’m so sorry I missed it. But I was running around all morning and even though I was just about on time I knew they were starting and I didn’t want to interrupt the performance. That is so rude, so impolite. It’s so distracting. So I waited outside.

I could hear a little.

Did you enjoy the concert?

Why didn’t you stay for the tea?

You were the first one out. I noticed. Why? There are so many nice people in that church. And some very nice young ladies, too. It would have been nice to stay for the tea.

I bet you are a popular one with the ladies.

I’m sorry. I’m embarrassing you. Don’t pay any attention to me. It’s something I can’t help. I embarrass my own children. I don’t mean to. Really. There are five of them – and I raised them all by myself. Well at least when they were teenagers. I raised them all by myself when they were teenagers. My youngest, he was about your age. Twenty two? You look to be about twenty two.

You remind me a little of him.

He liked to read, my youngest. For years and years we came to this church and painted it, my husband and I and all the kids and he always complained and slouched on the job and read.

He read all the time.

I guess that’s what made it hard for him to make friends, not to mention marry. No, sorry as I am to say it my youngest was never much of one for the ladies.

It’s a shame.

A tragedy.

It ruined my husband.

He said that I made him feel old but I knew that wasn’t it. I knew that wasn’t it at all.

I guess he’s happy now.

I think she’s still with him, but they were an odd couple. She was just a child. I always wondered what she saw in him – not that he couldn’t be a wonderful man of course – but he was older, and well, feeling his age, if you know what I mean. He wasn’t as fit and trim as he used to be. Bit of a belly. Not bad, but there just the same. And for the life of me I just can’t figure out what she saw in him.

It’s a nice day, isn’t it?

Sometimes they have the concerts outside. If the weather is good, that is, and the musicians are willing. Musicians can be touchy about playing their instruments outside. Especially if it’s a cloudy day. You would think that a little water would make them melt. When they do the concerts outside they set up a folding table and serve punch and cookies after the performance.

I’m surprised you didn’t stay for the tea. People used to stay for the tea, but maybe not so many do anymore.

My youngest, he liked the concerts. He was the only one. The others could care less. They had their football and cheerleading and summer jobs and went to college and moved away. I don’t get to see them much anymore.

Not as much as I would like.

But I suppose all mothers say that. I’ll bet your mother says that sometimes too.

Still, it seems that when I was little we went to my grandparents or they came to our house every weekend. Seems like one or both of my grandparents were around almost every weekend.

But then, they lived nearby. People don’t live nearby anymore. It’s odd, isn’t it, the way people in families move away from each other. I mean really move away. Miles and miles away. Hundreds of miles away.

I wonder why that is.

It didn’t seem so crowded today.

I don’t go as much as I used to. It seems that no matter how much I hurry I’m always late. Heaven knows I wouldn’t want to cause a disturbance. Could you imagine me walking in late and everyone turning and saying Look here comes Elizabeth Dewey all by herself disturbing the performance or the service.

I’ll just have to get an earlier start. I’ll just have to move a little faster.

What was it today?

The concert.

Shostakovich?

You’re the spitting image of my son.

Shostakovich. I love Shostakovich. I love his string quartets especially #11 it’s so mysterious that’s what they were going to play today wasn’t it I love the way the violins and viola sound in that one, the way they sound like horns calling from far away. Or is that #12? Yes, I think it might be #12 where the horns sound so far away. It’s so beautiful. I love the horns. They sound so far away. And that sound comes from three tiny instruments.

Ah, the music. I loved the music.

I’m sorry. I’m disturbing you.

You remind me of my son.

The horns remind me of my son.

That’s funny, isn’t it. I think they are him calling from far far away, from wherever he is now, calling for me.

It was a tragedy.

If I could only have heard those horns today.

It’s such a shame.

It was a tragedy.

I’m sorry. I’m disturbing you.

Is that the one they played?