[ Godsends ]

Mozart and the Message from Dad

Mozart and the message from dad

My father visited me yesterday. A seemingly ordinary experience except for the fact he’s been dead for five years. It doesn’t happen often, so when he comes to visit I know something’s up.

I knew it was Dad because he came to me through Mozart. That’s right — Wolfgang Amadeus himself. Symphony #25: Allegro Con Brio to be exact. I rarely listen to classical music, but earlier in the day I had heard this piece in a co-worker’s office and liked it enough to write it down. I knew it would be in the collection of Mozart CDs my father left me. The collection consists of every piece of music Mozart wrote, catalogued on 120 discs. Obviously, Dad was a huge fan. He was also very organized.

At home that evening I found the Symphony easily enough, but the track for the Allegro was a challenge. I’m ashamed to admit I never paid much attention to Dad’s hobby while he was alive. Once the collection became mine it sat on display, a possession I’m proud to own but not interested in enough to use. As I tried to navigate the index with titles I couldn’t pronounce, let alone understand, a single sheet of my father’s personalized notepaper slid out onto the floor. It was a small sheet — simple, white, his name imprinted in black script at the top. Even without the name I would have recognized his handwriting. He always prided himself on his penmanship. His notation said one thing—Track 12 on Disc 1. At that moment I knew what would happen when I hit track 12. Yet I was still surprised when I heard the strains of The Allegro Con Brio emanating from my Bose stereo, another gift from Dad.

Immediately I sensed his presence. I wasn’t sure why he was here, so I sat down, closed my eyes and listened. Within seconds my surroundings evaporated. The sounds of the air-conditioner humming, the cat crunching her food, even the music playing all faded away. I felt him sitting across from me, ready to talk. And suddenly I knew what he wanted to talk about.

Six months ago I decided to leave Atlanta within two years. My eighteen years in advertising and design have been good for me. I learned a lot, worked with great people, and grew to my creative potential. But eighteen years is a long time, and I’m burnt out. It’s time to make a change and find my passion again.

I’ve set my sights on a move to the Hamptons, the celebrated summer enclave of folks like Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, and of course, Martha Stewart. It’s always been my dream to live there. Maybe buy a Bed & Breakfast, or open a shop or a tearoom. The details haven’t fallen into place, but I know I’m ready for a change in scenery.

The Hamptons are a long way from the South, both literally and figuratively. My two partners in this adventure, Kevin and Philip, are as excited as I am, but recently Kevin talked about extending the timeframe for our move. To make matters worse, last week my office downsized from nine employees to three, and although I still had a job I began to lose the sense of security I had known so well for twelve years. The combination of these two things left me frustrated and impatient.

Enter Dad.

“You think I need to be a little more cautious, don’t you?” I asked him.

“Well, why do you think Kevin wants to wait?” His familiar Boston accent was strong as ever and it was comforting to hear it. Unlike a smooth Kennedy-esque sound, his Dorchester (or Daw-chesta, as he would say) accent had a hard edge.

“Well, that’s just Kevin. You know he works in real estate, and he’s very level-headed, more so than me or Philip.”

“Isn’t that why you want him as a partner? To balance out Philip’s right brain and your impulses?” He asked this carefully, not wanting to sound condescending. “You know, Robbie, I’ve always said you have a tendency to jump in before you think things through. I even told that psychic you talked with a couple of years ago. You remember?”

I heard the smile in his voice and was reminded of his sense of humor. I laughed and nodded in agreement, waiting for him to continue. After all, this was his show.

“I agree that a lot of the time your impulses have paid off – you were lucky. It’s good you’re willing to get out there and take some risks. But there’s been times, dear, when it hasn’t worked out so well.”

Here we go again. Obviously a subtle reference to my two ex-husbands and an impulsive move to Maine where I crashed and burned. “I know, Dad. But I’m so tired of what I’m doing. The thought of adding another year… it makes me crazy. I don’t know if I can wait.” I sounded like a whiny child, even to myself.

“If it’s really what you want to do, if it’s really your dream, isn’t it worth waiting for? Especially if it means doing it right?”

“Yah, I guess. But what do I do in the meantime?”

“You live. That’s all. Look, Robin, this isn’t a dress rehearsal for your real life. This is your real life. So enjoy it. Living for the present doesn’t mean you’re stuck in the present. It’s OK to look toward the future. In fact, I encourage it. Learn what you can about owning a B&B, work on your writing, start making your plans. It doesn’t mean you have to put everything else on hold until you get there. Just trust in God that everything will happen as it should. I did, and look at me. I’m doing fine. I promise you it will all work out, and it’s your job to be ready when it does.”

He was right, as usual. I had others to think about, too. The decisions of how and when were not only mine to make. For me, giving up control is unsettling. But I knew I had some pretty good players on my team — both here on Earth and up above. And I trusted them all.

I said good-bye and returned to my living room. But now, the music was clearer, the room warmer and the light softer. I felt at peace as I thought about what had happened. I wondered, did Dad actually sit up there planning what music I would hear? Did he have that much power? Maybe. His faith in God had been unshakable right up until the moment he died after a two year bout with cancer, so I’m sure he’s earned his wings by now. But does he watch over me and make a point to come around when I start to doubt myself? Or is he always there, ready for me to call on him when I need his advice or encouragement?

Maybe we all have someone watching over us, but we’re so busy we don’t take the time to stop and ask the questions or listen to the answers. So occasionally we need something to remind us to pause for a quiet moment. It can be a familiar smell, or a face we glimpse on a crowded street. Or a beautiful piece of music. At that moment I realized that having this little chat was probably more my idea than his. That’s OK, though, I’ll take it. Either way, I still think Mr. Mozart deserves some of the credit.

Robin S.

Decatur, GA