This week, I thought I would be writing about something else. Instead, this is an ode to my dear friend, Sally which I think is always a great topic. By the end, I know you’ll love her too!
Tonight, I will be singing for my dear friend Sally from the Valley, as I like to call her. Why? She lives in the Valley! Last year she asked me to perform in her “Taste of Italy Event” by singing some arias. I told her I absolutely would. She is such a lovely, wonderful woman and friend. She is also like a mother to me. The event is for a group she’s in at her church, JOY (Jesus Others You – for people ages 55+), they do all kinds of events, this is just one of the “at home” options, but they go to NYC and see a show, have dinner, volunteer, you name it! I would go over during my lunch hour for one on one rehearsals. She would have homemade vegetable beef soup or a grilled cheese sandwich waiting for me. But, always, always with a blueberry yogurt. She knows that’s my favorite. I brought an extra tea bag and we would have tea too. Love her. If you can imagine, just when I turn the corner to her home on a cul-de-sac, this is what I see.
Sally put this entire program together. She labored over the music, learned all of the accompaniment, came up with the theme and included some very wonderful and entertaining surprises that I cannot reveal. She made me promise. I wish I could have helped her more. I just drew up some seating cards and arranged where we would all sit for our special surprise. OK, so it rhymes with “mlash fob”. Good luck with that one. She emails me all the time and at all hours! We can go back and forth for a couple of days – and we do! She even has an iPhone and is on Facebook! This means, Sally is always around when you need her. She does not text though. I don’t know why that is…I guess you can say there is an air of mystery about her too. Just this year she traveled to Argentina this past January on a mini-mission with a group from her church focused solely to help with children and their families. She lived at a camp, played keyboard for the church’s outdoor church services – and each day went to an orphanage, working with the children and had little music sessions with them. She (along with members of her church) made thousands of homemade empanadas to fundraise for the trip. She jokingly said she wanted the Pope to try them when she had me try them. She thinks he is a breath of fresh air. She also thinks I should sing for the Pope too. Quite the humor on that lady. And the empanadas? She can cook too! But what a bucket list item crossed off her list?! Travel to South America?! To help others? The Pope’s home country? Wow!
Sally lives next door to a lovely, elderly couple as well. They are Irish Catholics with a beautiful accent. I sang for them and they were just the sweetest couple. They have a little point system with Sally (full respecting her Presbyterian faith and not wanting to convert nor they to her faith). Whenever Sally does something “Catholic” they give her a point. She’s in the 50s right now, but if she hits 100 then she’ll be Catholic. It’s cute and sweet. I loved seeing them together. You can tell they lived their lives all together. My dear Sally lost her husband a while ago. She doesn’t talk about it very often, but if you can imagine what that would be like for you, I can only begin to imagine what it must be like for my Sally. She is amazing though.
You would think I’ve known Sally for years with how I can go on about her. I met her last year during a wedding I sang at for the granddaughter of my friend, T. T is a sassy, wonderful lady too! The first time Sally and I got together to practice, I was blown away. She is supremely talented. You can tell how much love she carries in her heart just by the way she plays. We got along instantly. She met by boys and found out that Lexicon likes to play piano. Has she ever nurtured that. She would bring in little piano books and helpful little handmade musical staffs to help him learn his notes. She even gave him a hand puppet of Beethoven, his favorite composer.
Sally played at my wedding. For nothing! A world class organist played for me. In the end, it turned out we couldn’t have the wedding in the main church, but in the chapel with an electric piano, but Sally rolled with it! I didn’t have to worry about the music at all! T sang for me and Sally played. What a duo they were. It was wonderful to walk down the aisle and know that they were there because they wanted to share this day with me. As a gift, Sally gave me this…isn’t it beautiful? I have it on the mantle in my living room where I have my painting of The Last Supper that Deacon TC gave me. I also have the buttonier that my husband wore. I’ve been meaning to turn that into a rosary. I digress.
Last year, just after my wedding, Hurricane Sandy hit. I mean the very next day. I remained with power and decided to call or text everyone in my phone book that I could to see if they needed a shower, food, electronics charge, anything. Then I got to Sally. She lives in such a beautiful area surrounded by tall, old trees. So many of them fell. Some on her home. She was without power. Trying to refill her generator on her own and warming up in her car. Well. We would have none of that! Mike went a picked her up, refilled her generator, cleaned up her place and brought her right back home to us. She stayed in our guest room. All I had to offer for lunch was a microwaveable meal at the time, but she was so gracious. I took a bouquet of flowers from my centerpiece at the reception and put them lovingly on the bedside table in her room so she could feel like she was on a mini-vacation and not displaced. She stayed with us a couple of days and I spoke with her daughters who live a few hours away that she was just fine. When Sally left, we were all a little sad. Sally is such a light, can’t you tell?
Just like saying goodbye to her when she stayed with us, I find it hard to end her little tribute even though I will see her tonight. She told me I should call her Mom and I do. She really is such a blessing to me and to my boys and to anyone she meets. Yep, that’s our Sally from the valley and no, you can’t have her. Sally, if you ever get to read this, I love you more than I can say. Thank you for loving me and my family as much as you do.
Pray that we have a wonderful show and make Sally proud.
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