Thursday, May 13, 2021

I Met the Phantom

 During the course of running the Morning News from 2018-2020, before it was bought out by a larger conglomerate, I met “The Phantom.” 

The mayor of Blackfoot told me that if I really wanted to meet some interesting people I should attend a certain cafe at 8 a.m. on a Friday. So I did, wearing my most beautiful business dress. It was hilarious to just pull up a chair and sit down by a bunch of men in their 80s and 90s.

“Well, what are you doing—and who are you?” an especially old man asked.

“I’m ordering a coffee. What the hell are you doin’?”

They all laughed, and what I didn’t know is how much one of those men would change my life. Fast-forward almost three years.... The Phantom and I have become phenomenal friends. He’s just so brilliant, well versed, and witty. I know he took the news hard when he discovered that I have cancer. “But you’re so young,” he said, because although I feel ancient, in his mind, 38 is practically an infant. “Ya know, Elisa. I hate to say it, but I’m losing my spark for life. I guess that’s what happens as we age. I’m just getting tired of it all.”

My heart felt the immense weight of those words. Even with all my sickness—and profound suffering lately—I still have a spark. It seems that what he faces is even worse than my struggle to survive cancer.

Yesterday he drove up to my house in a fancy hot-rod and visited with my family. “You always talk about playing the violin, but I’ve never heard you play,” he said out of no where.

“Do YOU play an instrument?” The question just came to me, and I could hardly believe I’d never asked.

“I play around with the piano, but I’m not very good.”

“Well, why don’t we jam?”

So, after I grabbed my violin, he sat at my piano and absolutely shocked me. I didn’t know the melody, but it wasn’t too hard to pick up on. As he played a couple of refrains, I jumped in and the music just flowed. We crescendoed and quickened at the same times. The music vibrated through both of us as if we were immersed in a rushing river. And the moment was truly...beautiful. 

When he finished playing that song from the 1940s, I looked at him and smiled. Big tears glistened in his eyes—and when the tears were gone I realized he’d gotten his spark back.

“I could play when I was four. I just always knew how. It was during the Great Depression, and I’d go play at neighbors’ houses for pennies. I’d come home with a whole jar filled with coins. That was a big deal back in those days.”

Before leaving he stepped from his fancy sports car and said, “Hey, Elisa. You’ve got to get better because when you do I’ll let you drive me around town in my car!”

I could hardly contain my laughter. “Oh, really?! Incentive!”

It’s amazing how a stranger from three years ago has become such a dear friend. I loved seeing that spark come back into his eyes, in fact it might have helped set mine ablaze even more.

So I’m still mindbogglingly sick, but the memories I’m making are some of the best I’ve ever had. I can’t wait to jam with The Phantom again, and I’m so grateful for the time I had running a little newspaper in Blackfoot. The people I met there have absolutely changed my life.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sure you changed that old man's life as well. Put a spark back in it. And made me smile.