Happy 10th Birthday Samuel Cope

Sammy’s Silence
Grandma Baadsgaard
Happy 10th birthday Sammy.
Here is a story I wrote just for you.
I love you so very much.


Sammy liked his family’s new piano. His younger brothers and sister did not play rowdy or make too much noise in the piano room so it was quiet in there – quiet and warm. Sunshine streaming through the window from the afternoon sun made light and shadow designs on the rug in this room. Whenever Sammy was feeling sad or happy, he walked into the piano room. Then he slid under the keyboard and quietly sat on the bench. Later, he would practice the songs his piano teacher assigned; but for now, this was his sad or happy time.
            Sammy placed his fingers on the keys and closed his eyes. He listened quietly to the silence all around him. Then he played one note with his right hand and then another. Sammy listened carefully to the silence between the notes and sighed.
Next he placed his left hand on the keyboard. Then he played one note with his left hand and then another. Finally, Sammy played with both of his hands together, stopping and starting over and over again - sometimes using quick notes and other times using slow notes. If he was sad, a melancholy song flowed from Sam’s fingers. If he was happy, a quick lively song flowed from his fingers.
Sammy breathed deeply as he played. The music moved through his body like the rising ocean on the shoreline. There was a certain cadence to the sounds of the incoming tide. Sometimes an unexpected flurry of notes, like a huge wave, would crash on the keyboard and startle him with surprise. Sammy giggled and he smiled.
Now he was ready to play the songs his piano teacher assigned. Sammy thought about these songs in a different way. He knew that the person who created these songs often felt sad or happy just like him. As he played these songs, he tried to imagine what the composer was feeling when they composed the song. Sometimes he studied about the lives of composers so he could guess better. Sometimes unsettled or invigorating feelings came to Sammy when he played other composer’s songs. Yet, when he played their music, he felt they understood each other.
When Sammy was through playing the piano, he slid from the bench and turned around. That is when he often bowed to an invisible audience. Sometimes he clapped for himself and for all the composers who knew the secrets of happy and sad notes . . . and the elegant sound of silence. Often Sammy heard uproarious and grateful applause. That is when Sam played his most exquisite encore.
When Sammy went outside, the music did not stop. He heard melodies and rhythm everywhere . . .  in the song of a lonely bird sitting on the bare limb of a willow tree . . .  in the sudden gusts of wind whipping around the corners of his house just outside his bedroom window . . . and in the tapping of his mother’s knife on the cutting board preparing supper.

Oh, and then there were the enchanted times when Sammy climbed a hill where he could see so far and wide. He raised his arm and magic baton to usher into being the fleeting song of childhood - where only those who still have delight and whimsy deep inside can hear the intangible opus and tenuous offerings of life.