"Music, sweet mournful music wafted up from the shadows."
|Music, sweet mournful music wafted up from the shadows. I lay in bed listening to the melancholy voice rising from the living room. The voice caressed the notes, smoothing them, sending them throughout the drafty old farmhouse.
Wrapping a quilt around my shoulders, I carefully made my way down the creaking stair case, letting the music swell and wrap itself around me like the scent of bread baking to a golden brown in the oven. I stopped in the doorway of the living room. A warm fire cracked and popped in the grate, illuminating the room and making the shadows dance on the walls. I inhaled deeply, filling my lungs with the spicy-sweet scents of burning oak and maple.
Across the room, a figure draped in the dancing shadows sat in the open doorway to the porch. The beautiful music flowed in on the late autumn breeze, like a long-awaited house guest.
I pulled the quilt tighter around my shoulders against the breeze and walked as softly as I could across the uneven wood floor to a rocking chair. The figure in the door moved his frail hands with ease across the strings of his guitar. He rocked slowly to the rhythm of his song, occasionally causing the wooden sound box to reflect the soft orange glow of the fire. The man kept his eyes closed while he played, seemingly oblivious of his surroundings.
I sat back and gently rocked, remembering my childhood years spent in the old house. Images of my grandmother flashed in my mind. I could still remember the smell of her perfume as she held me in this very rocker. She, along with the sweet sound of my grandfather singing, would make me feel safe enough to sleep again when the monsters under my bed had threatened my dreams. In the winter, she would wrap me in a soft warm blanket and give me hot cocoa to drink while I sat by the fire. I would sit there and listen to the words of my grandfather's songs, letting them wash over me, causing my eyelids to droop. Then, he would put down his guitar and carry me up the creaking stairs to my bed.
One night though, when I went down for comfort after a particularly frightening dream, Grandfather was not playing his music. He had played every night for as long as I could remember, always sitting in the open doorway. That night, however, the door was closed. His guitar was still in it's black worn leather case, leaning precariously against the wall. I called for him, but he did not answer. I called for my grandmother, but still there was no answer. It was then that I noticed a strange coat on the coat rack and began to feel frightened. I heard voices coming from my grandparents' room. They were muffled and soft. I padded down the worn carpet of the hallway. In the door of their room, a young man stood talking to my grandfather. Grandfather had tears in his eyes as he nodded at what the man was telling him.
My young mind was having trouble understanding what was happening. Grandfather then saw me and picked me up in his thin arms. The stranger quietly said his good byes and left. Grandpa said nothing, just took me to the living room and rocked me until I fell asleep. After that night I do not remember anything except Grandfather's songs. From then on the old guitar just stayed in its spot against the wall gathering dust, untouched for many years.
I grew older and time just seemed to pass by without meaning. The guitar became an ornament, just standing there, forgotten, propped in the corner. Grandfather never mentioned it again.
Today was different, however. Over a steaming breakfast I had asked Grandfather to tell me about Grandmother. He grew quiet and a reflective look came over his face. The wrinkles around his eyes softened and a twinkle came to his eye. We talked for hours about her, him making me laugh with stories of her and a young me, until the phone rang. The abrupt interruption put a damper on our conversation, and neither of us mentioned her the rest of the day.
Sitting here now, as I listen to my Grandfather play and sing again, tears come to my eyes. I know now that he can think of her without that horrible feeling of sorrow that was always peeking around the corner. Now, a new veil of serenity had come over him and after all these years, he is finally at peace.