I recently attended a jazz concert which reminded me of the first (and only) jazz event Debbie and I attended together shortly after we were married. After about 30 minutes of rather eclectic, avant grade-sounding tunes, Debbie leaned over and whispered in my ear, “When are they going to stop warming up”? Translation: Debbie was not into jazz.
But even though we didn’t share identical musical tastes, music was an important part of our marriage, especially during her illness when hymns and praise songs bolstered our faith.
God used two different musicians to encourage us at critical times during two of Debbie’s many hospitalizations at Walter Reed. The first occurred a couple of evenings after her surgery on Dec 26, 2012 to remove her cancerous ovarian tumors. As we hung out in her hospital room, her nurse asked if we minded if a musician came in to play his guitar. To my surprise, Debbie said OK as I thought she was in no mood to hear a strolling “zither” (Deb’s word for guitar) player. So in walks this rather short, portly guy with long hair down past his shoulders pushing a cart with his zither (oops – guitar) and various props. He introduces himself and asks if we would help accompany him. One of the props was a wooden frog similar to the one pictured above which produced a unique sound when the ridges were rubbed with the stick. As many of you know, Debbie loved to collect toy frogs so she was immediately drawn to this one. Zither-guy proceeded to play a superb rendition of one of the Charlie Brown Christmas tunes, accompanied by Deb on the wooden frog and me on hand bells. He played a couple more songs, thanked us for allowing him to play, and then left. Deb and I agreed that was EXACTLY what we needed at EXACTLY the right time to boost our sagging spirits.
The second scene unfolded during one of her last hospitalizations a few months before she passed away. We had just learned that her ovarian cancer continued to spread to her lungs, which was very discouraging (albeit not surprising) news. Again, her nurse popped in to inform us a musician was on the floor and asked if we were interested in a visit. By this time, we welcomed any distraction. The musician (different guy from the first story) played a very poignant song on his guitar which moved us to tears. His song managed to tap into what we were feeling at that exact time and helped us release a myriad of emotions – fatigue, fear, disappointment, etc. We marveled at God’s timing, sending this gifted musician to sing words we needed desperately to hear at just the right time.
And in the final hours of Deb’s life, I played for her wonderful hymns from the CDs shown above: George Beverly Shea’s “I’d Rather Have Jesus” and “Thine is the Glory”, a collection of piano hymns by Joanna Marini. I wanted her to hear and know that God was with us, and that she would soon be with Him – healed and whole.
It’s OK Deb didn’t like jazz here on earth. I’ve got a feeling we’ll find lots of great music we both like when we’re together again in heaven. And that’s music to our ears!
Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth!
Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. (Psalm 96:1-2)