I Heard The Word… And It Came Through Song ©2021
A short story by K. B. Pellegrino, Author
Ms. Bitner sat in church two weeks before Christmas on a lovely Sunday morning. A habitual attendee, if for no other reason than to socialize, she appeared bored with the lackluster sermon. She noticed Maisey Morgan sitting with her husband and thought, well I avoided that situation. Single ladies often live longer than married ladies. That’s what I’ve heard, and I believe it. I’ve never wanted to clean up after a big oaf who doesn’t have my level of particularity. I heard Mr. Morgan is an okay guy and was Maisey’s rock when she had that serious surgery. I had no one when I faced my health problems. My nieces moved away to California and Idaho of all places. They come back once a year. Generous of them. I’m their only relative left.
The minister finally finished his homily and Ms. Bitner let out a sigh of relief, loud enough to be heard by the teenager sitting in the pew in front of her. The girl turned and faced Ms. Bitner smiling in agreement. Ms. Bitner sighed again thinking, only this hormone specimen with purple hair and twelve earrings in each ear agrees with me. All the others are probably asleep. Why can’t we get a minister with great oratory skills? It seems I’ve been assaulted with nonsense for years in our church by less than acceptable leaders.
Ms. Bitner’s Christian name was Adelaide and she was shocked beyond her belief when the purple-haired brat in front of her whispered, “He had much to say, Ms. Bitner, but he says it so poorly, nobody listens. It’s too bad he didn’t have a teacher like you.”
Adelaide, taken back, said, “Do I know you, young lady?”
Purple-hair gave her a brilliant smile while commenting, “You were my mother’s teacher in high school English and she has used your teachings as the basis of how we kids at home speak, write, and analyze the world. Mom’s famous now and she credits you.”
Emoting would be the word to describe Adelaide’s demeanor. She thought, just who is her mother. If she became famous, wouldn’t I know about her? And why would she let her daughter have purple hair and wear all that jewelry? This teen is maybe fifteen or sixteen. But she does speak well. She has excellent diction totally at odds with her dress.
“Your mother’s name and yours, young lady. I will surely remember her.”
“My mother said she was not one of your best or favorite students. Her name was Lucy Hart and mine is Cassie Anderson.”
An observer would think Adelaide was mentally slowing down while she thought about responding to Cassie. They would be wrong. Adelaide was shell-shocked, musing, of all the students I ever had I could not even imagine that shy Lucy would become the famous opera singer Lucia Anderson. Lucy or Lucia is not in front of me, just two other teens and a man. I used to coach Lucy to have the gumption to stand in front of the class and read poetry. I do remember her saying she would do better if she could sing the poem. At the time, I could only imagine disaster. And this Lucy gives me credit.
“Cassie, I’ve heard of your mother as a singer but didn’t connect her to the young girl I do remember. But I have never heard her singing.”
“Ms. Bitner, read the church bulletin, mom’s singing the closing hymn and then giving a short concert. Minister Soren invited her when he heard she was in town. We don’t live here anymore. We moved to New Your City when I was eight years old. Mom sometimes sings at the MET. With this pandemic, Dad is moving us back to our old home. I’m happy to be back.”
Cassie’s smile did something to Adelaide. Something that made her see beyond the earrings and purple hair. Adelaide extended her hand to the girl, who took it, and she said, “I am so pleased you reached out to me. Don’t lose that habit, you have made me very happy in remembering your mom.”
Cassie’s dad nudged her to be quiet, saying “They’re introducing Mom.”
And this graceful and handsome women took the altar and sang Ms. Bitner’s favorite Christmas Carol, “I Heard The Bells on Christmas Morn.”
Adelaide’s soul surged bringing tears she could not control. She stayed for the concert and she cried through much of it. Lucia’s voice was in her mind from the gods. But what Lucia’s singing did to her, was to crack the hard shell she had developed in her soul and mind. She saw the reaction of Lucia’s singing on Minister Soren and spotted tears running down his cheeks. She looked over at Maisie and thought how lucky she was to have her dear husband to help. She looked inside her own soul and pondered, I wouldn’t let Lucy use her gift in my classroom. I was closed-minded. Only my manner of expression was valid. What I have missed. How many other students have I limited their gifts? Dear Lord, forgive me. I only valued my own gifts while Minister Soren who I think of as boring was open to having Lucia sing in his church. He is much more generous than I ever was.
And Christmas song opened in Adelaide love for her nieces who would be here for Christmas. She thought, how fortunate am I to have company for Christmas. How lucky am I to see Lucy in all her glory. Thank you, God, for bringing me purple-haired Cassie.