The second piano teacher I had in my piano lesson “career” was a sweet, older lady whose name was Alice Hansche Mortenson. She lived right on Lake Michigan and I remember her house being a very warm, welcoming place. I don’t remember exactly how long I took from her: I do remember that she used to hold a ruler up to our backs to make sure we were sitting straight. We also were never allowed to look at our hands while we played. And if your nails were too long, she’d clip them right then and there. Never mean, she was strict and I can appreciate that now! I loved the way she wrote – so carefully and neatly with a blue felt-tip pen. Seeing her handwriting in my old piano books brings me right back into her living room.
One other memory of Mrs Mortenson was that when I was in junior high, I remember that she came to our church one Sunday night, and later that week, passed away. I cried, upset that I hadn’t gotten to say goodbye, and hadn’t talked to her when I had seen her; I had only waved and smiled. When my mom figured out that I was upset she told me God could probably give her a message for me. So, even though I was older, I fell for that and sent a message her way. Even after that, I would send messages to people in heaven. When I told my mom that last year, she was like, “Oh yeah, I just said that to make you feel better.” All these years… and me, with my theology degree just went along with the Messages to Heaven idea. Oh well. (I still send messages, Mom!)
Anyway, along with her talent for teaching piano, Mrs Mortenson was a poet with published books. Last week I was setting up a new office area for myself and came across a plaque she had given me for Christmas with one of her poems on it. It reminded me of her and here it is for you:
I’ve much to do today, dear Lord,
But let me kneel a bit before the threshold of my day,
That I might enter it with mind serene
And heart made fresh with fragrant heavenly dew
That every moment of the day I’ll be reflecting You.