Last week, we attended the "Night of the Arts" program at my sons' school. My boys are in the choir
Let me tell you about the case, and the trumpet it contains. When I was in middle school, my father, who made his living as an arranger and a trumpet player, decided to buy himself a new horn. He went with a Bach Stradivarius "'73 Lightweight." It was an very expensive instrument; today, to give you an idea, the trumpet lists for around $4,000 to $5000.
My dad played it for awhile, but decided, in the end, that he liked his Yamaha horn better and he went back to that one. So, when it came time for me to start playing trumpet in the school band, he handed me the Stradivarius and said, "Just be careful with it." I have to say, deserving of it or not, I played it for quite a few years, and not a dent.
My son received the treasured (and expensive) family heirloom with the same instructions, and he is also doing well with it.
When the case handles broke, I went to look online for a replacement case. The case my father had (a Bach case), in an updated form, costs $300, so I decided to simply look for replacement handles. I found them and ordered them, so, problem solved.
Before I ordered, though, I wanted to measure the broken handle. For this, I needed to take it off of the case. As I unbuckled the ends, I had to pause. That handle had also been a replacement for the original one. It struck me pretty hard: the last pair of hands to buckle that handle onto the case had been my dad's.
He's gone now, but, that small thing he did remained done until that moment. A moment, from the past, overlooked and, in the grand scheme, unimportant was preserved. That moment in which he simply fixed that case was preserved as long as that handle remained buckled. A silly thing, isn't it? But it always seems to be those things are the most profound evidence of a person's existence -- things from the everyday that endure like footprints in time.
It feels a little like I brushed my dad's hand when I took that handle off -- like we touched each other, if only in the most brief and ethereal way.