—for Theodore “Ted” Hovick
Ted plays a dreamy piece of his own composing,
hands gliding over his Steinway baby grand, then slips
into a jaunty tune. Frowns. Oh boy! Keys that stick–
I can’t do a run! Glad the tuner’s coming soon.
Self-taught after a single year of lessons – defying
his father, paying with chore-money – Ted’s pluck
and heart carried him through hard losses over
92 years: his beloved mother at nine, economic
stability as a young husband and father. Later,
his home of fifty years, his sight as macular
degeneration robbed him of reading: NYTimes,
Scientific American. Music.
Cruelest of all, Dee, cherished wife of sixty years,
and sister Carolyn, gone in the same month last year.
Losing them both put me into shock.
But, I’m so lucky. I have three sons. All with PhDs!
I had a good wife, a good sister, a good mother.
Sometimes I just want to talk to my wife, tell her
about my day. He sighs. We liked long walks.
We danced the Charleston. I can’t do that anymore!
He points to a quilted portrait of him at the piano,
stitched by his sister. She was so talented.
Despite what he calls his shadow of a memory,
he launches into six verses of a childhood song,
each a taller tale than the last. Oh, I’m a truthful
cowboy, and I’ll be danged if they’ll hang me!
Pensive again, he remembers his mother as she
left for hospital. Teddy, you’re going where there’s
woods and water, you’re going to love it there.
He smiles. That orphanage, where he and his sister
briefly lived until their grandmother took them in,
is where I picked up my love of music.
That love has lasted, threading with song a rich life.
©2022 by Mary Rohrer-Dann