December 4, 2010

Our Sonatina Champ!

When we hurried down to Chicago to visit Joe's ailing mother on the Thursday before Thanksgiving, we anticipated that we might not be home for the weekend. While Kathleen understood, it was pretty much heartbreaking for her. She was scheduled to compete in a regional Sonatina Festival on that Saturday, and she had prepared for months. If there is one thing Kathleen loves it's piano. If there's one thing she loves even more, it's competing in piano competitions.

On Thursday night, when Grandma was transferred home from the hospital, Kathleen sat down at Grandma's piano to play her sonatina, knowing we would not likely be home for the competition. We shushed her at first, thinking Grandma needed to rest in a relatively quiet house. But Joe's sister, Margaret, quickly reassured Kathleen that one of Grandma's favorite things was to hear her grandchildren playing the piano. So Kathleen serenaded Grandma to the tune of her competition sonatina. We know Grandma heard Kathleen playing, because she squeezed my hand and smiled when I told her that it was Kathleen on the piano.

Grandma passed away the next morning, a Friday. After the shock of her passing and after taking care of everything that needed to be done immediately, we realized that we would no longer be spending the weekend with an ill grandma as originally planned. That left open the possibility of heading home to Wisconsin and allowing Kathleen to participate in her Saturday morning Sonatina Festival. So we drove home Friday night and got Kathleen to her competition the next morning. It's what Grandma would have wanted.

Just before Kathleen walked into the room to perform for the judge, I reminded her that she last performed the song for Grandma. She should play it again for Grandma now.

Knowing how much Kathleen wanted to win the competition, I was on pins and needles listening to her play for the judge on the other side of the door. She played like the wind. She played with emotion and amazing accuracy. She played for Grandma.

About four hours later we received a call from Kathleen's piano teacher. The conversation went like this:

"Kathleen, you won!"

"I won?"

"Yeah, you won! You did awesome!"

"I won the whole thing?"

"Yep, the whole thing, Kathleen!" 


Kathleen, playing for  Grandma, won first place of all the competing twelve-year-olds. The regional competition included students from Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana. She was pretty much incredulous. So were we. Kathleen, you rocked the house (in your classical rockin' way)!

That evening, Kathleen participated in a Winner's Recital where the 1st-6th place winners receive awards and where the 1st place winner from each age category performs their winning piece. Kathleen is pictured here, at the winner's recital, the happiest little girl on the planet I'd venture to say.

Kathleen, we hope you'll always play music. You have such a gift. And we hope you always remember the special connection between you and Grandma and a very amazing Sonatina Festival.

Kathleen, trophy in hand, walks to the piano to play her first place winning sonatina for the 12-year-old catergory.
All present 1st-6th place winners are pictured here. Kathleen is in the back row, third from the left. Look at that smile!

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