By Rita (Modic) Dargan | Class of 1964, Mount Gallitzin High School
Some things are cherished – just for the memory – no matter if they are useful or not. A special hanky. A stone found on a vacation. A collection of photographs in an album pasted in chronological order. It is those memories that warm the heart and cause an inner appreciation of life lived.
On a recent rainy day, my purpose was to clean up the overflowing filing cabinet in my study. It’s tucked into the closet sharing space with shelves full of past interests and hobby paraphernalia. There was my oboe in the original case and my old music books. Patrick bought it for me for our 11th anniversary.
I know I remarked how I missed playing my oboe. I took lessons from Sr. Ruth (Venard) Sattler in the 1960s as a student at Mount Gallitzin. So, after the special anniversary gift (Patrick always remembered things I said), I took lessons in the late 70s and early 80s. But life took hold and the fine art of music appreciation got whisked away with many more pressing responsibilities: a relocation overseas with Pat’s engineering work, our daughters growing up, my career rebooted, etc.
I sighed and moved the instrument in its case to a different shelf, cherishing all those memories. Two days later, I read an article in the local paper in which a gentleman from the Naples Symphony wrote requesting donations of instruments for the Alva School Band Program (Alva is a more rural, less economically viable community). He listed the school’s address and a contact, Ms. May.
A day later, I wrote a letter describing my instrument and saying it had been in the case for more than 30 years and not played or maintained. It was such a timely turn of events. Ms. May called me as soon as she got my note, and a day later, I walked into Cadence Music Store, as instructed by Ms. May, to see if their meager school funds could be used to reinstate the oboe into working condition. The oboe would be evaluated.
Oh, walking into that music store warmed my soul. I didn’t even know it existed. It smelled like “old music;” it looked like a music room from my youth. Instantly, I felt at home with my oboe in my hand in its case. This was GOOD was my immediate interpretation! Everything felt right. (I even noted a lamp made from an old unredeemable clarinet) on the counter. The atmosphere spoke love of music!
The young red-haired gentleman who handled it said that it looked awesome, but he would need to turn it over to the technician. Just a day later, a Saturday, I got a call from Todd praising the instrument and telling me it’s in excellent condition and valued at $1,000-plus and my heart went zing. I am so thrilled to donate it to the school band. Of course, it needed some work but not pricey and easily doable with the meager funds of the school budget. This “abandoned” oboe was just reborn and I felt immense joy. I love the journey – from Patrick’s loving gift to me – that was meant to bring happiness and hopefully now continue a spark of appreciation of the oboe’s unique sound and contributory value to music.
I end with this note: I think we are often so busy we miss the guiding hand of Our Lord. But how timely this all was. A little connection of insignificant events, a tempo set by the rediscovery of my old oboe, the article in the paper. It is so uncanny that while at Mount Gallitzin I was “asked” to switch from clarinet in the school orchestra to oboe because someone donated it to my Mount Gallitzin.
The melody of my alma mater, the values taught, the nuns that encouraged us to new thresholds and sprinkled us with ambition and good values will always be a part of my being and most appreciated with fondness.