Once upon a time about a quarter century ago I experienced something that I will never forget. It was in Tallahassee, Fla. and involved a wonderful lady named Elizabeth Jones.
I had a claim to handle on Elizabeth's house keeper who had fallen and broke her arm on Elizabeth's front steps. Elizabeth was in her mid to late eighties, was about 100 pounds, and had the deforming type of arthritis where her fingers took 90 degree bends and went literally every which way. I am told that this form of arthritis is also very painful.
It was about this time of year 25 years ago that I met Elizabeth for the very first time. Her house keeper had been with her for many many years and it was obvious that those two had love and respect for each other. We insured Elizabeth and I was paying the maid's medical bills under Elizabeth's homeowners policy. I found out that Elizabeth lived alone and was in the very first graduating class of Leon High School - the oldest high school in Tallahassee - and the very same one our daughter graduated from. Elizabeth had a daughter who lived across town but like Elizabeth said, her daughter was very busy and rarely got to visit. Sometimes not for more than a year at a time.
What makes Elizabeth so special is what happed just before Christmas. I had paid all the maid's bills and it was just a few days before Christmas. I went by Elizabeth's home to pay any last minute bills. Normally I would have handled this through the mail but I liked visiting Elizabeth and her housekeeper, so I made time to stop by to personally pick up the bills. Having taken care of some final bills Elizabeth said in the most dignified Southern fashion "did I have a few minutes to spare". I told her I did so she guided me into the parlor where she had a baby grand piano, sat me on a small love seat, sent her maid to get me some Christmas cookies they had made together along with a glass of milk. She held up here tangled fingers and said that even with those twisted fingers she still played piano every Sunday at her church. It is hard to describe those fingers because they went every which way and were all severely twisted.
Her maid had brought me a plate of cookies, glass of milk, and stood by the love seat while Elizabeth sat down at her piano. I sat there with a plate of cookies in my lap, a glass of milk in my hand, and my briefcase between my feet. She then proceeded to play me about thirty minutes of flawless Christmas Carols one after the other from memory. How she got those deformed fingers to hit every key with precision is totally beyond me but she did and I was awed and totally spell bound. She played the piano with obvious effort due to her painfully deformed fingers.
There is no gift that could be greater than one given from pure love and from the heart. That is what Elizabeth Jone's gave to me that day. With those deformed, obviously painful fingers Elizabeth played for me the most perfect and flawless Christmas Carols I have ever heard. That small room was filled with the most beautiful music possible. Yes, I did shed a tear or many as I listened to that melodious music.
It has been 25 years ago just about this time of year when I first met Elizabeth. I thought it was appropriate to share this memorable story with readers, lest it go unspoken for any more years. It was by far the most personal and loving gift I have ever received. This wonderful lady shared her gift and love with me in such a way that I will never forget. One of the most special and personal gifts a person could ever receive. Thank You Elizabeth from the very bottom of my heart!!!