My daughter’s cello teacher was a tall woman with white hair and a kind smile. At the time when we met her, she was in her early 70s, retired, and did not teach on a regular basis anymore. Still since we were in town only for a year she agreed to teach my four year old daughter. But she had one condition: I had to take cello lessons as well.
Her reason was that in order to appreciate what it meant for a young child to master the cello, and to help her practice, I had to learn it myself.
That teacher had a great reputation and I really wanted her to teach my daughter, so I agreed. Besides, her explanation made sense since, in the Suzuki method for teaching young children music, the parent has to practice everyday at home with the child.
She was indeed an inspiring teacher with unusual methods. For example, she refused to take any money for the lessons, and when my daughter performed well, as a reward, she gave her a quarter (or two). At the end of each lesson she thanked the little girl for teaching her something new. This experienced teacher claimed that every lesson she learnt something new from any child.
Our teacher taught at her home and there we met her partner, another musician, who was several years older than our teacher. The two have been together for over 40 years.
We were at their home for lessons almost every day, with time we grew closer and became friends.The partner even accompanied my daughter on the piano during her cello lessons. But, at their request, we always referred to them as Misses (and not Ms), and we were never on a first name basis with either of them.
Once the teacher asked me to fetch something from the bedroom and I realized that the two of them shared a bedroom. It seemed like the most natural thing.
Earlier today when I heard the happy news that the Supreme Court ruled by a 5-to-4 vote that the Constitution guarantees a right to same sex marriage, I remembered our two elderly friends who have been dead for almost twenty years.
I thought about them since apart from being with each other, the life of our friends was quite conventional. They owned a house, had a career, and worked in the garden. They were churchgoers and active in their church. On one occasion they told me how proud they were to be able to raise enough money to have an organ built for their church.
Marriage is not for everyone, gay or straight, and of course that word was never mentioned in reference to our proper elderly friends. But I feel that a loving couple who had stayed together for over 40 years would have loved to be officially married. Moreover, since the church had been so central to their life, they would have been proud to have a church wedding.
I just wish they were here today to be part of it.