It’s not every day that an 84-year-old veteran walks through our doors, plops his violin on our counter and says, “I’ve been lugging this thing around for 15 years. I’ve decided that if I’m ever going to learn how to play it, I better start now.” My response was simple and direct… “You’ve come to the right place. We can help. Let’s get started!”

My response surprised him as he told me later that he was a little embarrassed to walk into our building, thinking we only taught children. He was relieved to learn that he would receive customized individual lessons rather than learning with a group of children.

In spite of some war injuries and arthritic issues, he began working with his violin teacher learning to play his favorite song, ‘Amazing Grace.’ His goal was to play it at church.

Proper technique wasn’t the focus of his lessons, like it would typically be for a beginner who didn’t have physical limitations. Instead, his violin teacher’s focus was helping him achieve his goal of playing for his church. 

After months of learning and practicing, the day came when he stepped onto the platform of his church and with confidence played, ‘Amazing Grace’ on his violin for his congregation, but more importantly, for his Creator.

Following the holiday break he missed his lesson, which was very unusual. The next week he was again a no-show. We followed up with him and learned that just a short time after he played in church, he sustained a stroke that left him partially paralyzed. He would no longer be able to play the violin.

I look back and feel so grateful to have been a part of his life’s journey. Our paths intersected at a later chapter in his life, but it was a chapter that could be concluded with the familiar Biblical passage, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant.’ He played for an audience of one, his Heavenly Father, and I suspect he will be asked to perform an encore when he reaches his heavenly home.