The Piper

It didn’t take long for the small caravan of cars in the funeral procession to reach the cemetery after leaving the church. Arlington, Oregon is a very small town that is nestled within the path of a steep canyon that drops in to the Columbia River. The graveyard is set on a high bluff with a vertical drop overlooking the town and the rocky outcroppings into which it has slowly stretched over the past few years.

The mourners moved toward the burial site accompanied only by the sounds of their shoes in the gravel and a breeze whistling down from the higher cliffs. The preacher held his Bible for a moment of silence. At that instant, the familiar strains of a bagpiper's Amazing Grace began to waft over the hills. As though merging with the survivor’s tears, the continuous notes poured over them and on down into the slow churning water of the mighty Columbia. The family members nodded their gratitude to each other for the thoughtful tribute.

About fifteen minutes before this scene unfolded, the hubby and I were sitting and enjoying time with dear friends and admiring their recently purchased retirement home. They constructed it in on a high sloping meadow chosen because of the grand vista. To the north, you can see across the ravines that curve and meander to form the wide gulch where the town meets the river. The quiet solitude and the lofty view cultivate a feeling of contentment.

As we sat on the deck bringing each other up to date in our lives, Kari turned to her husband and said, “Hon, why don’t you play the bagpipes for Pam?” He had started lessons a few years earlier and his performing skills were already well known at community events. My hubby was intrigued when she suggested that he dress for the part. So Michael kilted up…. in the real deal….right down to the sgian dubh in his sock.

He lifted the blowpipe, started filling the bag, and was soon expelling the reedy notes of the hymn Amazing Grace. The mournful piping flowed like water over the hills and through the rocky crevices, as have thousands of years of streams that carved out the Columbia River Gorge, the only sea level route through the Cascade Mountains. We sat in silent awe as the final notes echoed across the miles to the river’s Washington side.

It was the sincere thank you they received a few days later that made them aware that in a moment in time a piper’s melody had intertwined two stories... one of welcome and one of farewell.

Comments

Kelly Klepfer said…
Amazing Grace on bagpipes. I have goosebumps just thinking about it.

I can't think of another instrument that comes as close to being in tune with the human soul.
Robin said…
Beautiful, Pamela. We rarely have opportunity to know how our actions affect others, but there is a ripple effect, huh?

The sound is haunting and palpable like no other. Highland Cathedral is one of my favorites :). And yeah, goosebumps.
Dawn said…
Had to come back again.

Beautiful story. I am now a fan of bagpipes. When hubby and I got married, my MIL had someone play the bagpipes at our wedding. I wasn't sure about them at a wedding, but it was the most beautiful thing. We're outside on an island on a lake and the bagpipes aross from us.

Now I'm a really big fan!
Bonnie B said…
What a beautiful story and so well told! Amazing Grace on the bagpipes makes me cry-- really.
It is so beautiful. Plus,it was played at my grandpa's funeral
Jenny said…
This brought tears to my eyes.
Angelina said…
I am visiting via Dreaming What Ifs, and via Tiggerlane.

This is a wonderful post. I especially enjoyed it because I am a huge fan of both the pipes and Amazing Grace, and most people seem to think that bagpipes sound like dying animals or fingers on chalkboards. Yet if I had to have only one instrument on earth speak for me and my spirit, it would be the bagpipes. They make the world stand still for me.
Tiggerlane said…
Beautiful imagery...I can just hear the sounds of it. You painted the picture of it vividly.
Vicki said…
As always. Terrific writing.
Mert said…
That's an beautiful and amazing story! I brought a tear to my eye also :O)
CyberCelt said…
Wonderful post. My sister wants to have Amazing Grace on bagpipes at her funeral. I just pray I die first, because I would lose it when I heard that sound.

Your daughter is "pimping" you.

Here for Click & Comment Monday, and I am so late it is Tuesday in some timezones.

Have a great week!
Melissa said…
That's a lovely story Pamela. Just perfect.

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