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The Tarnish is the treasure

Updated: Jun 7, 2019

Tarnish is the treasure

Some may look at this as an old tarnished instrument, hold that thought and let me tell you about this instrument.


I grew up in a small town, not just small, but a tiny town. My high school had less than 300 students. My second grade year was a hard one. Being the second oldest of six I felt lost in the shuffle, in the middle of an angry divorce my parents were going through. Mrs. Bridges, my teacher, long curly hair with a warm smile and a soft voice that I remembered from our church became the comforting voice I needed. She understood my struggling grades and offered to tutor. I started going to her house for my lessons. We would sit at the kitchen table where a plate of cookies always sat. In the back ground was the soft sound of different musical instruments being played by Mr. Bridges (also a teacher) who was practicing the music he would play and sing at church. My first experience of hearing music in this form. Not just what I heard on my mom’s record player but in real life. Piano, guitar, and instruments I had never seen before. I never once saw any kids in their house or with them at church. I once asked her where her kids were, she said her kids are the ones she teaches.

Mr. and Mrs. Bridges were a big part in those rough years. Being there whenever they could help. From bringing groceries and cloths for six growing children along with mowing the lawn and lending there car. The more time I spent with them the more music started becoming something I craved. The way each key on the piano made different sounds, put together made soft sweet music that comforted me. The sound of a beautiful piece of music would make tears run from my eyes and still does today.


As years flew by and time filled in those spaces since I had seen Mr. and Mrs. Bridges my love of music grew. My children became the ones I listened to play and sing. In the spring of 2019 the word of the passing of Mr. Bridges found me. As I made my way through the visitation line my 7year old memories came flooding back to the time when I was one of their children. I realized that is where music entered my life. A love I passed on to my children. Mr. Bridges is the reason I made sure my children had the chance to pursue their musical dreams.


It was not long after the passing of Mr. Bridges when Mrs. Bridges found me and asked if I would accept her beloved husbands cherished Baritone. With honor and grace Yes. After tears and hugs and love I headed home with this old case with scratches, scuffs and a homemade handle to carry the treasure with in. At home I opened the case to find the most beautiful instrument I had seen. As I brought my hand to the keys that once was alive with sound and touched the aged and tarnished finish that made it sing to life I realized the instrument it’s self is not the treasure. In life it is the tarnish that is the treasure.


Deb Johnson


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