Robby

Red Rose on PianoMy dad told this story in a sermon a long time ago. It’s a heartwarming urban legend, so I’m passing it along in a way similar to how Christ taught using stories, or parables, in Scripture. Parables are story-like word pictures that contain powerful life lessons many of us can remember with ease. May the lessons of this story of a young boy and his piano teacher remain fixed in our minds for the rest of our lives.

A certain piano teacher had never thought of turning away a student until she met Robby. Robby was the only child of a single mom, and at age 11 seemed “musically challenged,” to put it lightly. He worked harder than any of her other students but appeared to make little musical progress. However, he had an incredible attitude and would say after each session, “My mom’s gonna hear me play someday.”

Then suddenly, Robby stopped showing up for his lessons; his teacher was relieved and chose not to call when the piano recital they had been working toward was a week away. Before each recital, she mailed the flyers to the families of her students, forgetting Robby was still on the list. He called immediately and pleaded with her, insistent that he play. He had missed the lessons because his mother had become so sick, but he told her that he had still been practicing every day. Because Robby wouldn’t take no for an answer, the teacher listed him last on the recital program. Believing his performance would be poor, she hoped to cover it with some good closing remarks.

Robby showed up on time that night, but his clothes were wrinkled and his hair was a mess. Additionally, he had chosen a difficult piece to play—Mozart’s Concerto #21 in C major; his teacher knew it would be a disaster. Robby approached the bench calm and composed. He began to play, and the audience was silent as his fingers danced over each key. No one seemed to notice his hair or clothing; the music filled the gymnasium with wordless wonder. Upon hearing the crescendo, the audience jumped to its feet bursting in applause.

Wiping her tears, Robby’s teacher ran to the piano and praised Robby for his performance. Kindly, Robby took the microphone and reminded his teacher what he said after each practice: “Someday, my mom’s gonna hear me play.” Then he continued, “Remember how I told you my mother was very sick . . . well, she had cancer and died this morning; she was born deaf, so today she heard me play for the very first time and I wanted to make it special.”

As with the piano teacher, we all are given opportunities to learn from people like Robby. For whatever reason, something tragic happens when we overlook others because of their wrinkled clothes, messy hair, or lack of measurable or impressive work; we miss some of life’s greatest lessons taught by some of life’s wisest people.

I can assure you that most of what I write is connected in some way to great lessons I’ve learned from my disabled son, Jon. He is a gift to this world, and there are “Jons” everywhere.

Let Me Hear from You

If you have ever had a Robby experience, will you please share it with me?

  • PegWhitaker

    So true, my love, and I’m so glad you are Jon’s mom! Do you hear the music? Love from Peg

  • Love this illustration. We so often overlook people based upon their appearance or status. We have recently come to know a homeless man. My husband brings him food at night and hot chocolate to help him keep warm but what God has shown us is that he is important. He offers my husband money (£1) or a coat from the ones he wears to keep warm. He has nothing but would give away the coat off his back. He has nothing, everything he owns in a shopping trolley, yet he would give it away if it would help you. We’ve had a lot of people be generous to us during our lives but no one has offered us as much as this man… all he had. It breaks our hearts and all he wants in life? A family and to not be broken. When I hear that I realise he may be unwashed and dirty and sleeping rough, but he isn’t so different to the rest of us. Isn’t that all anyone wants? Our circumstances don’t make US better than another, it only makes our CIRCUMSTANCES better…

  • Colleen Thompson

    Oh Peg, what tender words you offered to me…thank you. Actually, Jon LOVES music and has chosen songs our church choir has sung to sing at his spring programs. Last year it was “Holy, Holy, Holy”; this year it is “Christ the Lord is risen today”. We listen to it EVERY morning on our drive to school about 6 or 7 times…I will never question if Christ has risen!!! There is music in his soul and it comes out all the time…so I can say, Yes!…I do hear the music. Thanks again for your encouragement. Blesings, Colleen

  • Colleen Thompson

    Lucille, what a story…it takes my breath away. The fact that your husband saw more than a physical person but one of God’s creations is something to celebrate. Next, the fact that you both have done something to serve him brought tears to my eyes. How rare that is indeed. How truely rare-yet EXACTLY what Christ did. He met needs without judgment. Then, to read of the man’s generosity, another tear was shed. This is a man who has the best perspective on things…they mean nothing because we own nothing in God’s economy. My dad preached on angels the other day and said we may often meet one but never know…what if this man is an angel that God has allowed you to serve… thus revealing purity and rare tender mercy. May the Lord abundantly bles you as you continue to serve Him. What a story! Thank you for sharing it with us all. Colleen

  • Diana

    What a heartwarming story. It was a blessing to read it. Sadly, my 21 y/o son in extreme illness, is like Robby in terms of his appearance. How good it does my heart to read stories like this that remind me some people out there really don’t see the grubby clothes, but the person behind them. God bless!

  • Colleen Thompson

    Diana, While I am so sorry for your son’s condition, it is touching to note that you ‘get’ the stuff that’s really important. All the outer stuff … clothes, looks, even abilities like playing piano, are so far down on the list of importance when you see what is behind the exterior. I’m warmed by your comment and thank you for sharing part of your life…and your son’s life…with me. What a great mom you are! Colleen