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Posted: May 10, 2014 9:41 p.m.

A reader's tribute to a dedicated lady

Music, music, music!

I can’t remember a day when I did not love music. However, I am not an accomplished musician or singer; but not being able to play in Madison Square Garden or sing in the Bill Gaither Group does not make me love music any less. I am and have always been an attentive and devoted listener!

Isn’t it neat how we can remember so many minute details of happenings in our growing up years when we can hardly remember what happened last month! I love to reminisce; I hope you do too.

The reason I have mentioned this is because in my memory bank, and in my heart, there is and will always be a very special and talented lady that played a very big part in my young years, helping me develop this inner love of music.

Many of my school classmates, I’m sure, feel the same way I do. This lady is none other than Mrs. Lewis (Bonnie) Caldwell, Judson Caldwell’s mother.

When I entered the third grade, piano lessons were being offered to the students in the Porterdale schools. As children are prone to dramatize their wishes and desires, I expressed to my mom and dad that I just had to take piano lessons; most of my friends were doing this.

Even though my parents worked in the textile mill and made very little money, they made a way so my life could be enriched. When they bought me a piano, I just knew I was ready to sit down and play. Wrong! Then I started my lessons, twice a week. One segment of the week would entail doing exercises in a workbook and the other weekly segment would be practicing on the piano. Well, just take a wild guess as to the one that I liked the best. You’re right; it was not the workbook session.

This wonderful and patient lady recognized the potential in each one of us and trained us accordingly. Through her wisdom she not only knew what our potential could be, she also knew when we or I didn’t practice enough. There were times when she would appear very strict; but, because of this, we would be ready when it came recital or performance time. This was a big event in our little town; everyone came it seemed.

I’ll always remember my first recital and my first “formal” gown. It was made of white organza material with light blue satin bows spaced neatly over the skirt of the gown. It also had light blue satin ribbon that entwined through the lace that graced the neckline of my gown.

The music room was located in the back of the gymnasium, across the street from our school. Our lessons were scheduled during the school day because some of the children lived in the country and this made it easier for them and Mrs. Caldwell. One day when I was in the third grade, as I tried to cross the street to go to my music lesson, I stepped out in front of an oncoming car. It knocked me unconscious and when I awoke I was in the medical clinic and standing there with my mom and dad was Mrs. Caldwell. Her concern for her students reached beyond teaching the love of music.

I have an unending appreciation and an everlasting tribute to a wonderful lady that played such an important part in my life and who opened up the world of music to me and all the others that were fortunate to have her as our teacher and our friend. More importantly, the example that she displayed to her students was one of integrity, warmth, love, sophistication and perfection.

After many years of illness, this lady who impacted so many young lives with her talents went home to be with our heavenly Father on March 8, 1999. Her legacy will live on in the hearts of those that knew her so well.

When it comes time for me to depart from this earthly body and enter that wonderful home called Heaven, I just know that I will have the opportunity to listen once again to the beautiful sounds of the piano as Mrs. Caldwell’s fingers slide so delicately across the keys.

Also, I feel sure she will ask me, “As you played the piano, did you always remember not to slump those wrists and to keep them straight?” With my fingers crossed, I’ll probably say, “I tried.” And I really did try, Mrs. Caldwell, I promise.

Joyce P. Fincher is a Newton County resident, published freelance writer, inspirational speaker and founding president and member of the East Metro Atlanta Christian Writers.

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