(A two-minute video. c. 2014)
The back story: About 14 years ago, a little lady came over to me after a library talk about writing books, and introduced me to her husband, Dr. Jay Barnhart, saying, “My husband here plays piano, maybe you two should meet up and play together sometime.”
Now retired and in his 80’s, Dr. Barnhart had a long medical career, in Pennsylvania and then in Miami, where he worked for the renowned Dr. Joe Davis, as an assistant medical examiner. He was the autopsy guy.
Jay and I kinda eyeballed each other, reluctant, then saying, “Well, what the heck. We’ll try it.” He had his quirks, I had mine, he was finicky about playing, and like him, I always want to play pieces – my own way. (ahem)
Long story short, that began one of the most wonderful and rewarding relationships ever. We played everywhere, not always at Carnegie Hall levels, but always having fun. When music got too difficult, we’d just laugh and fake it. Our greatest gift was that we could play most anything…by ear. (Yes, I used my fingers too). Jay was a musical phenom. Sometimes we dared the audience to name any tune that he didn’t know. Rarely could he be stumped.
The one thing we had in common, was — in childhood — the good fortune to have a mother who made us learn and practice, practice, practice. One time, I asked my mother, “Why, Mom? I wanna go out and play.” Her answer: “Practice first. Someday you will thank me.”
Thank you, Mom.
Jay and Ruth, his devoted wife, have now moved to another state, to be with family in the twilight years. I do miss him, and our music together. I couldn’t love a brother any more. The memories will always prevail.
Thank you Ruth. And…thank you Jay.
Sharing this story, a heartfelt musical message, with good friends and loved ones. Enjoy.