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The After Effect

Posted on by Jeff Raught

Blue DumpI recently had a concert at a retirement home. Generally I do not change things too much as far as what material I choose to sing or tell stories about. I did my usual silliness mixed with a dab of poignant. I had closed the program with the song When I Grow Too Old to Dream. In the liner notes of the song were these words from Oscar Hammerstein which I shared with the audience before singing. “The success of this tender waltz came as a surprise to lyricist Oscar Hammerstein. He felt the opening lines – “when I grow too old to dream, I’ll have you to remember” – didn’t quite make sense, but he loved them; they felt right. But what did they mean? Nevertheless, it soon became apparent that the public had accepted the words in the special sense that when a person grows too old to dream of a future love, he or she can still recall a love of the past. This had been Hammerstein’s subconscious meaning all along.” I sang the song and concluded the afternoon concert. Afterwards a few folks came up and talked to me. One woman seemed to be waiting back a bit until everyone had left. As the crowd thinned out she came up and asked me about that last song. I told her what it was and asked if she would like a copy. Though I know it by heart, I always bring one copy with me. When I asked, she seemed incredulous that I would have it available. I assure her that it was fine. And then she shared this: “You know, my husband died since we moved here.” And as she spoke she took the music and held it to her heart. She began again….”I will always have him to love, even though he is no longer here”……..her voice stilled once more and now she moved the music to her face as if to drink in the words. She held it there for a moment, her sweet aged eyes glistening with the memory of her beloved. The one who was no longer there. She then gently held my hand for a moment and said “Thank you for this, now let me see if I have something in my basket for you.” She rummaged through and out came a small 5×7 print of an Andrew Wyeth painting. I asked for and copied her name to the back, so that I would always know who gave it to me. It is this kind of “after effect” that you cannot plan on or foresee as a performer or more importantly as a person. My heart and words crossed hers at the exact moment she needed. I really had nothing to offer an eighty year old woman. And yet I did. Most times you never know what impact you have on another person’s life. For a few moments this past week, I did. Never underestimate what the power of a single moment can do. Because moments, are undefined by time, they always will be.

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