Questions at Her Grandparents' Funeral
It didn't take a trained ear to realize the organist was abominable. Yet a veiled glance about the church suggested to Jill that no one was paying particular attention to the music. There was a low undertone of voices, which gradually died down as Pastor Thomas took his place at the pulpit.
"They should have gotten a better organist," Jill whispered to her mother at her side.
Marta lifted one side of her mouth contemptuously. "Their musical taste is about like their taste in food. They probably think she plays like Bach himself!"
Jill leaned away from her mother and fiercely willed herself not to cry. Again she chewed the inside of her cheek, which was beginning to feel raw. She told herself over and over that they would care about the music, seeming unable to shake the thought from her mind. She held her bunched up handkerchief to her eyes to catch the tears forming there. Jill hated her mother at this moment.
The music died away at a small nod from the pastor. He asked them to stand and sing together from the words printed on their program. As they began the hymn, Jill was carried back to her grandmother's kitchen. She closed her eyes.
She could see the sunlight filtering through the maples that encircled the farmhouse. As it shimmered across the cupboards in the early morning, her grandmother hummed and sometimes sang, "There is sunshine in my soul today, most glorious and bright."
She would beam at Jill as she flipped pancakes on the griddle, or dipped homemade bread into French toast batter. She remembered the question, "Is there sunshine in your soul, Jilly?" and her grandmother's husky laughter as a sleepy seven year old answered, "I like it dark."
Now the words caught in her throat like dust. Her soul felt like charred blackness, as though the best in her life had been consumed. At this moment, with the music flowing around her and the memories it brought crowding her mind, she thought nothing mattered. Her grandparents had worked hard all their lives, with what to show for it? The spoils of a farm to be squabbled over by a daughter who despised them. Would her own life yield up such dubious results? Her career seemed a pipe dream, music a waste...