Stephen—from earliest childhood—was super-sensitive and perfectionistic, which frustrated him a lot but also made him an amazing student. For example, he taught himself to read when he was only four! No kidding!!Stephen was always the romantic, and wonderfully affectionate. I took each of the children out for a special breakfast at the end of each homeschooling year, but one year Stephen took such joy in the occasion that when I went up to the cash register to pay the bill, the cashier told me some man had already paid. Apparently little six-year-old Stephen had totally captivated the gentleman with his exuberant sweetness!So, it was with great delight and joy that we attended his master’s recital. This is only his fourth public recital, and so he was very nervous. He signed up early in order to get the best auditorium…and then at the last minute the school decided to remodel and switched the recital to a rehearsal hall. Yikes! There was no air conditioning, and it was 86°s out, so we opened the doors…allowing a few winged creatures to float about the room. Oh, brother!To make matters worse, it was the night before the last day of finals week, so almost everyone was either studying or gone. Nevertheless, some of his friends made the special effort to come out.Eventually the room began to fill, although I couldn’t help but wish people were as crazy about classical music as they are about a football game!By 6:00 pm, a number of the people we were expecting had not arrived, but it was time to start! You can sneak quietly into the back of a darkened auditorium, but you can’t sneak quietly into a brightly-lit classroom, especially if you have a broken leg or a small baby. And, how do you keep small children perfectly still for an hour? Or..what do you do when your baby needs to nurse?I could tell that Stephen was a bit distracted, and there were a few times during the early parts of the program where he lost his concentration for a few seconds, but by the end he was playing magnificently, and all of a sudden a caught a glimpse of Stephen’s true potential. I realized that if he I didn’t know him but had gone to a large auditorium filled with people and a symphony behind him, I would have been totally mesmerized by his fabulous playing!It also struck me that he played his best during the most challenging parts. It was only during the quiet, less difficult movements that he lost focus a couple of times. Isn’t that true of life, too? During times of extreme duress, don’t we “buck up” and survive…even shine? It’s more often when we’re not under a lot of pressure, or the pressure’s off, that we tend to drift. Pressure, like exercise, is good for us and will make us stronger and deeper if we will respond right, even though it’s HARD!So, that’s the story on my classical son and his classical piano. I also want to tell you a little about the classical friends and family who made the effort to come! Here’s our little classic flower, Iris, who slept like a champ through all the gorgeous music!Here’s Stephen’s classic brother, Joel, who’s going with him to Hawaii to visit Michael and Grace’s family tomorrow. Between them is Hiroko, who’s been a loyal friend for several years. Hiroko is a classic from Japan, has played a recital at Carnegie Hall, and is just finishing her doctorate in music performance.And then, more of Stephen’s fans! Daniel and Brianna had just arrived back (after an all-night drive) from Florida at 8:00 am that morning, but they still managed to drive over from Battle Creek to support Stephen. Carl had a 5:00 pm mandatory meeting at work, but Kathy faithfully brought Iris to the church and picked up Carl so they could make it for almost all the concert. I call those very classic acts of love and loyalty!And, how about this for classy? Van Parunak cheerfully gave up being spoiled by his family on his birthday by encouraging them all to come with him to the performance instead! That’s sacrificial love.Anita came too, even though she was just starting to recover from influenza. (The young man is “Michael,” named for our son, Michael!) The Parunaks have been dear family friends for close to 35 years! Truly classic friends!And then, there were Gene and Andrea Parunak, with their brood of lovely youngsters. I heard comments afterward about how well behaved the children were! Andrea is Stephen’s cousin, which now makes Gene Stephen’s cousin, although Gene has been best-of-friends with our three oldest sons since baby days. And, to the far left, is Steve Cooper, who rode over with Alan, Joel, and me. He has been best of friends with our three youngest (Daniel, Stephen, and Joel) since baby days too…just starting 15 years later! And then, Dr. Hess came. She’s another real classic! She’s the professor who encouraged Stephen to get a master’s in musicology too. I’m truly sorry I didn’t get a picture of Debra Moriarty, Stephen’s mentor. She is the head of the piano department and has been a wonderful guide and inspiration to Stephen!
So, there is an update on my classy classical son! He’s just finishing grading his students last exam, will be home tonight but then off on an adventure tomorrow! But then—finally—I’ll try to finish my tales of Ireland.
“But let all those that put their trust in you rejoice: let them ever shout for joy… let them also that love your name be joyful in you” (Psalm 5:11).