Bill and I are visiting his mother at her retirement home in Orland Park, a suburb south of Chicago. It is pretty quiet at Smith Crossing, and particularly quiet in the assisted living unit where she lives. So the other day we decided to go out for a walk to just get out of the apartment. We got Wilma in her wheel chair and began wheeling around the very large facility. We were walking down a hallway in the independent living section where Wilma formerly resided, and Wilma pointed out that her friend lived in a particular unit. As though on cue, the door opened, and Wilma’s friend Dottie came out. She was surprised and delighted to see her old buddy, and invited us all in.
To my great surprise, just inside her doorway was a gorgeous black grand piano. It was shiny and spectacularly beautiful. “Will you play for us?” Wilma asked her friend.
Dottie proceeded to perform for us the most wonderful little concert. Moon River. Ebb Tide. Autumn Leaves. On and on. She played beautifully.
“Did you perform professionally?” I asked her, and was quite surprised to hear her laugh. “Oh, my no Honey,” she said. “I can’t read a single note.”
She showed me her list of music. The list probably included 200 songs. Each song had a letter before the name. A. B. C. D. E. F. G. The first note of the song. From then on, she played entirely by ear. And it was beautiful. And she is 94.
By the way, the folks at Smith Crossing asked her to play piano at the Friday afternoon cocktail party. You can’t make this stuff up. She didn’t have a tip jar.
Have a great weekend.