Victor's Violin

It sat there on the shelf, silent and still, highly polished and gleaming, just another relic from the past. He looked at it thoughtfully. All those years and still she kept it. He remembered the story she had told him the first time he saw it.

‘Is that your guitar, Grandma.’

She smiled. ‘It’s a violin, Joey, and it belonged to my grandfather.’

‘Where is he?’ he asked.

‘It’s a long story,’ she replied.

‘I love stories, Grandma. Tell me, please,’ he begged.

‘Very well. Come sit on the sofa with me and I will tell you about Victor’s Violin,’ she said patiently.

‘Victor was a fisherman. On weekdays he got up before daylight and went out in his little open boat to fish. Every day except Sunday, he was out on the ocean, working hard to earn a living and provide for his family.

‘All week long the violin sat on the shelf in the parlour. On Sunday, Victor took the violin down and played the sweetest music you ever heard. In the summer, he sat out on the back porch and played while family, friends and neighbours gathered just to listen. Many brought food baskets and spread their picnic blankets. It became a community tradition that lasted for many years.

‘During the winter months, family and friends would gather until the old house was overflowing– all there to hear Victor’s Violin.

‘Victor wasn’t a religious man and never went to church, but his faith was strong and that violin was the only thing he touched on Sundays. Sunday was his day of rest and all he wanted to do was make beautiful music. As long as God gave him the strength and ability to work and play the violin, he would honour the Sabbath. Then it ended.’

‘What happened?’ he asked.

‘One day Victor went fishing and was never heard from again. Everyone helped search for him on the ocean and on the shore, but no trace was ever found.

‘A memorial service was held on Sunday with the violin placed atop the coffin. During the service, his son Tom took the violin and played one of his father’s favourite tunes – Amazing Grace. The amazing thing was that Tom had never played a note before – and he never played again. My grandmother thought it was a sign from Victor, telling them that he was in Heaven and still playing the violin on Sunday. She took Victor’s Violin back home, put it on the shelf and that’s where it stayed.’

He was still curious. ‘Didn’t anyone else ever play it again?’

‘Not yet.’ She smiled and looked at him as she spoke. ‘Grandmother always said that one day some descendant would inherit Victor’s talent and then the violin would be played again. She said she felt it in her bones.’

Joey’s hands trembled as they reached for the old violin. He settled it into position and as he walked into his ailing grandmother’s bedroom, the sweetest strains of Amazing Grace filled the air.

‘I always knew you’d be the one,’ she whispered as tears filled her eyes. ‘You have inherited your great-great-grandfather’s talent, now take his violin. Make Victor’s Violin live again and it will serve you well.’

© Fay Herridge
Published in Canadian Stories, Oct/Nov 2004


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