The music box was a lovely gift from my sister, Sue. Made of wood, sculpted and painted to look like a small country church, complete with stained glass windows and a little golden church bell tucked inside the steeple. It reminded me of the house of worship in our small town, the one that stood at the center of my father’s life before he passed away. It had been three years since he died, but Sue must have known I was still missing him. I turned the key and cried upon hearing the first three, heartfelt notes. “Amazing Grace,” Dad’s favorite song.
Ask anyone in town what they remember most about my dad, and they’ll tell you in a flash. “Every Sunday he rang the steeple bell, inviting all of us into church,” they’ll say. And then they’ll mention “Amazing Grace.” Dad led the song selection on Sundays, and I can’t remember a time he didn’t include it.
Dad had a deep, sonorous voice, and it soared above all others when he sang, “and saved a wretch like me…” Even after the service he’d still hum the tune while he tidied up the sanctuary or mowed the church lawn.
I’d been thinking a lot about Dad lately. When I passed the church, heard the peal of its bells or, during Sunday service, heard the opening notes to his song, I would get emotional all over again. Dad had always been there for me. When I was a child, he soothed my little-girl fear of the dark; later, he paid for my years in nursing school. I wished he could still be with my sister and me now.
That’s why I was touched when the deliveryman knocked on the door, bearing Sue’s gift. The last notes of "Amazing Grace" trickled out, and I immediately called my sister to thank her. “You don’t know how much I needed this,” I said.
“I got a feeling that a music box would cheer you up,” Sue said. “I called a shop to ask if they had any shaped like churches, and told the shopkeeper to send the one he liked best.”
“You mean you never saw it? You don’t know the song it plays?” I asked.
“No,” she answered. “What does it play?”
I told her. Now it was Sue’s turn to cry.