Monday, April 09, 2012

H is for Helen

Helen was the organist who played beautifully at the church where my dad was the choir director in the late 70s. Not only that, Helen let me be her page-turner during the Easter cantata when I was in seventh grade. I'm not sure which impressed me more, her playing or her allowing me to sit next to her on the organ bench.

I do remember almost every word to the cantata. Especially these lines:

"Man of Sorrows, what a name
For the Son of God! He came,
Ruined sinners to reclaim.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!"

Those words have the power to lift my spirits heavenward in one breath, and put me on an organ bench in the next. Both are priceless feelings.

I could read music and, for the most part, I thought I was a helpful page-turner. (She made me think so anyway.) But there were plenty of times I didn't turn the page soon enough, and she'd be playing something from memory till I caught up. Or I'd turn it too early and she wouldn't miss a beat. Most of the time I figured the book was in front of her just for show. She didn't really need it, did she? Nor did she need me, for that matter. She probably could've directed the choir herself, but she sat submissively waiting for direction from Daddy.

Helen made ceramic figurines as a hobby. As a thank-you after the cantata, she gave me a beautiful little ceramic deer. I named the deer Faline. The poor thing has lost its two front feet, but since it's lying down, hasn't really missed them any more than Helen missed the notes that I failed to put in front of her .

Helen left a legacy of inclusion (for lack of a better word) in my seventh-grade heart, a heart that craved to be included, to belong somewhere. Long after we left that church, I missed her. Such was the lasting impression of Helen that I wanted to include her in my wedding many years later. Her music was every bit as beautiful as I remembered, and that feeling of belonging has stayed with me.


The photo is the only picture I have with Helen in it. Look closely. You can almost see her at the organ.


Susan Kane said...

What a tribute to Helen! She influenced your life on so many levels. I bet she is pounding the keys in Heaven, and singing those hymns to God Himself. Can you imagine?!

Anonymous said...

What a dear lady and what a wonderful memory. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Beth Zimmerman said...

One of my very favorite hymns! Helen sounds like a wonderful woman!