I was extremely happy to see Family Search #52stories writing prompt this week because I have had it on my list for some time to write about my grandma, Clara Lou Peters Stewart. My love of music and singing can likely be attributed to her. My love of big band music came from watching her bobby-socking in the kitchen at a 4th of July party one year! She was one amazing piano & organ player. I have oodles of newspaper clippings from her younger days playing in school concerts and I daresay, she likely played at the wedding of nearly half of Pickaway County during her lifetime! I have so many memories of family holiday gatherings where she would hop on the organ in the corner of the dining room after a meal and play/sing for us.
Grandma was the church organist for St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Ashville, Ohio and while I honestly don’t know how long she was in that role, it seems for as long as I was little, she was playing there every Sunday morning. I’m not sure what spurned her to do it but one day, she asked me if I would join her in playing a piano/flute duet at church. We practiced for about two weeks and when the day came, my nerves absolutely frizzled out when I saw the pews were quite full! I remember standing next to her piano, she nodded at me and with my hands shaking, we played our two minute song perfectly.
I know I had many moments (and laughs) with her while she was here with us but this one in particular stands out in my mind as likely one of the best. I don’t think I played particularly WELL then and she could have asked anyone but she chose to ask me. There was no other family around, no other grand kids to compete for her attention… it was just she and I together in one musical, magical moment that has stayed with me since I was 14.
Weird family factoid about what makes it even MORE special that I played there with her? St. Paul’s first pastor was my 4th great grandfather on Clara Lou’s maternal side and the land was willed to church by my 6th cousin from Clara Lou’s paternal side. Nearly every member of our family has been married there and I was baptized there!