Mar. 16th, 2010

callistahogan: (Default)
In fifth grade, I picked up the trumpet for the first time.

The trumpet itself was shiny and gold, not a scratch on it. I depressed one of the valves, letting a smile cross my face as it went down smoothly. The mouthpiece was silver and pristine, untouched. I lifted it up, pursing my lips, and blew. The noise emitted was weak, hardly even a honk, but I knew I would get better once I started going to band and learned how to play the instrument properly.

I put the mouthpiece down in its pocket, running my fingers along the cord tucked in a narrow crevice of the trumpet case. My fingers stilled as I closed my eyes.

He was playing. I swiveled in my seat, peeking over the pew. Pastor Don held the trumpet proudly in front of him, the music ringing through the sanctuary. I smiled, bouncing in my seat. I knew him. He was my pastor, and I was his little shadow. He looked so proud and happy up there, doing God's work, doing what he loved, and I couldn't tear my eyes away from him.

It was at that moment I decided to play the trumpet someday. It was for him—the pastor I had known in third grade. The man who had taken me under his wings without a protest, who didn't mind me following after him like a little specter. He was kind and gentle and sweet, everything a pastor should be, and he loved me like I was one of his own grandchildren.

My fingers strayed from the cord, necessary for cleaning the inside of the trumpet, and ran along the smooth surface of the trumpet itself. I imagined myself, just as powerful as he was, belting out songs, fingers pressing down the valves.

It was a tribute to him.

My role model, my second father, my pastor.

And here came another memory.

It was the first time we met. My father and mother introduced themselves to the pastor, but I hung back, clinging to my father's leg. Although I was a big girl—a third-grader, away from the little kids at the kindergarten school—I couldn't seem to muster up the courage to speak to him. He was my pastor, and I could trust him, but he was big. And I was small. And he was scary.

“And who's this?” the pastor said, looking down at me.

I let out a squeak, trying to be as small as possible (which wasn't that hard, considering I was tiny for my age). I didn't say a word.

“Well, let's see,” the pastor said. “Do we have a quiet one on our hands?”

“Yes, it seems so,” my mother said. She glanced down at me. “Come on, why don't you introduce yourself to the nice man?"

Because I'm scared of the nice man, I thought but didn't say.

A twinkle appeared in the pastor's eyes as he realized I wasn't going to respond. He continued to look down at me, trying to coax a conversation.

“You're a tiny one, aren't you?” the pastor said. “What's your name?”

I wondered why he wouldn't just go away. I didn't want to talk to him. He was my pastor, and he was supposed to talk to the big people, not me. I was supposed to be in the background, right? I played with my dress, twisting the fabric in my hands.

“Come on,” he coaxed. “It can't be that horrible.”

No response from me.

“I'm sorry,” my father said. “She's just shy.”

“Oh, I can see,” Pastor Don said. He didn't take his eyes off mine. “So, if you won't tell me your name, can you at least tell me how old you are?” He smiled. “Why, you're so tiny. You can't be more than four or five, can you? Are you in kindergarten?”

I couldn't help glaring at the man. I was not a kindergartener. I was in third grade. I shook my head.

“But you can't be older than that,” Pastor Don said. “Big girls talk, don't they?”

I didn't say anything.

I was a big girl. I was I was I was and I HATED him for making me feel like I was a little kid. I glared at the pastor.

Far from being as intimidating as I hoped, Pastor Don laughed. He teased that I would be a big girl when I could tell him how old I was. He turned back to the conversation with my parents, and I didn't have to talk to him anymore. But then the church service began, and I asked my father for a piece of paper and a pen.

I was a big girl. And I was going to prove him wrong.


I shook myself out of the memory, smiling as I remembered the little note I gave him. To Pastor Don Lock, I wrote—back then, I hadn't realized his name was spelled “Lough”—I am a big girl. I am in third grade. Not kindergarten. And I had doodled in the margins of the paper, then handed it to him at the end of the sermon. He had taken one look at it, scanning through the words, and burst into laughter.

And there it was: the beginning. Every Sunday, I found a way to send him little notes, and he found a way to always talk to me. And when I talked to him, I didn't feel like a little girl. I felt, strangely enough, like an equal, and I always wanted to be around him.

He didn't mind me following him around like a shadow. Even though I was young and he was the pastor of the church, he had a special place in his heart for me and my family. He came over to our house, he read all of my little notes I gave him, and he even baptized me.

I stared out at the congregation from the stage, shivering in my tiny robe. My legs shaking beneath me, I slowly spoke my testimony, looking down at the black words that I had typed on the computer. It seemed at once to take forever and to be over in an instant, and before I knew it, I was waist-deep in the cool water, and Pastor Don Lough's hands were behind my back and across my arms. My tiny hands plugged my nose shut tight.

"I baptize you," he said, "in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”

He lowered me down into the water, and I pinched my nose shut. My eyes closed, and I felt the water seep into my robe, wetting my jeans and T-shirt and drenching my hair. Slowly, Pastor Don Lough brought me up again, and I smiled up at him.


My fingers paused on the trumpet and I smiled as I remembered that day. It had been Easter morning and I had been in church since 5:30 for the Sunrise service. My legs had been shaking that entire day, both at the prospect of being lowered into a pool of water and having to speak in front of an entire congregation as a mere third-grader, but somehow, I always knew it would be okay.

Because it was Pastor Don Lough, and he loved me and cared for me and always had time to give me advice about my petty, third-grade issues. He wasn't a normal pastor. He cared for his congregation unlike any pastor I have seen since. He didn't ignore the little children, like so many pastors did, but he relished in the idea of helping them, supporting them.

He took me out to eat with his wife once. It had been an occasion both of us had been looking forward to, ever since we had brought it up months previous. He didn't even require my parents to go with me—which showed me, even at that young age, that he respected me. That he knew I was capable of being strong on my own, of behaving myself in a restaurant, without a parent present.

Pastor Don Lough and I had a special relationship. It is a relationship I have never had with anyone since.

It was a mutual respect. I didn't feel like a child when I was with him. I felt—to use a cliché, I felt treasured. And I felt loved and cared for.

I only knew him for a mere eleven months before he went on to a better place. He died suddenly, with little pain, one Sunday afternoon. That day, I hadn't made it to church; I fail to remember why. But he passed on with no suffering across from his loving wife, which is all I could ask for if he had to go.

I knew him for such a short amount of time, but I will never forget him. He was a special man. Everyone in the church cared for him, but only I have certain memories of him: of meeting him that one day, of seeing him play that trumpet and wanting to follow in his footsteps, of sitting next to him on a comfortable bench and eating Chinese food, and of following him around like a shadow every Sunday morning.

We occupied a special place in each others' hearts—and I can't wait to see him again. Because I'm positive that will happen, one day long in the future, and I think he'll be pretty proud of me when that day comes.

--

This has been my entry for week 18 of [livejournal.com profile] therealljidol. If you liked my entry this week, please consider voting for me when the poll comes up? Thank you!

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callistahogan

March 2010

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