“I don’t really like to play the piano but I’ll sing you a song” is what the young man from Texas told us on our 26th anniversary.
We had just dined at the fabulous K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen in the French Quarter of New Orleans. The Chicken and Andouille Gumbo was a delicious appetizer. Interesting options also included turtle soup, crawfish and pan-fried rabbit.
For the main course we enjoyed the blackened Louisiana Drum fish and stuffed pork chop. Dessert was a New Orleans tradition of Bread Pudding with Hard Sauce.
I remember fondly that our son, who we had just dropped off at The University of Mississippi, called during the meal. Normally I do not have my phone out at dinner. I was following the rules I had been told: to let the college freshman call you first and not smother him. I’d been waiting 4 days so of course when the call came through, I ran to the ladies room to chat. I love my kids. We did speak briefly and he seemed OK. Ah, the moments we remember.
After that anniversary dinner, we strolled back through the small streets listening to the sounds of jazz and laughter coming from lively outdoor drinking establishments.
We stayed at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside because I really like waterviews and it is located within walking distance to the French Quarter. It also has a great restaurant called Drago’s Seafood on the first floor.
The view of the water was like nothing I’ve ever experienced. I expected some fun water sports or sailing to be going on. Instead I appreciated the daily workings of tugboat workers maneuvering large cargo platforms along the river. Several renovated steamboats took tourists out for dinner or drinking cruises but personal pleasure boats were few if any in this area
We arrived back to our hotel and decided to stop in the new speak easy type bar called Public Belt on the main level. It was a Wednesday night so not too crowded. In fact we were the only ones there. The bartender made us a craft drink called the Vieux Carre which was created in NOLA and seems to take a lot of effort.
We were chatting with him when two young men walked in. One strolled over to the piano and started to play a few notes. I asked him to play us a tune and he walked over to us and asked if he could sing us a song.
Has that ever happened to you?
Well, me neither so we said yes.
This young man was amazing. His voice was loud and he performed Italian opera songs, just for us. Even the bartender was amazed and you know, they have heard it all!
we bought him a drink and as we were wrapping up the conversation he offered to sing one more. I asked if I could record him and he agreed.
I’m glad that I did. Mike died 10 days later.
The song I taped is famous and very beautiful.
About a month after Mike passed, I remembered this evening. I recalled how we were the only ones in the bar and how this kind young man came to sing to us. As I was searching for some meaning or sense to what happened in my life, I remembered the way we felt at that moment. I decided to research the lyrics to that song. When I read the English translation, I was stunned.
After I read those words, I gasped. Why did his man sing to us that even though we were having a beautiful sunny day and celebrating there is a brighter sun – another sun that’s upon your face. Whose face?
Maybe … he was an angel and had a message for us. You tell me.