The following is a tribute I wrote to commemorate the passing of a dear Southern Belle from my childhood. This post is made in tribute of the late Kathryn Belle Speed.
The Song of the Southern Belle
April 21, 2014
In the evening of April 20, 2014, someone who was a friend to countless, a relative to many, and a treasure to all passed from this existence and onto the next. Her name was Kathryn Belle Speed.
There are no words that can alleviate the pain from the sense of loss currently felt by those who knew her. Yes, we all know that the circle of life exists and that our song must one day end. This knowledge doesn’t dull the pain when time for someone is no more.
Will we be remembered? This question is one that we will all ask ourselves at some point in our lives. How we are remembered and the legacy we leave define who we were during the time walked the Earth. Maybe we need to ask not if we will be remembered but if we made an impact while we were here! The best of us will be both remembered and impactful. This could be said about Mrs. Kathryn Belle. She was one of those who made an impact one so very many just as she will be remembered.
I’ve often heard it said, “Mrs. Kathryn Belle is a true Southern Belle.” Perhaps her parents knew the person she would one day become? Perhaps she simply chose to live up to her namesake? Or, maybe it doesn’t matter either way. She was simply a kind and wonderful person.
It saddens me to say that it has been many years since I last saw Mrs. Kathryn Belle, but my memories of her have never diminished over the years. She is, even now in my memory, the person Imet as a child.
One of the most vivid recollections I have is of her doing something that I, without a doubt, know she loved to do. I see her playing the piano during Sunday services. She, with hymnal pages marked and sheet music for special music ready, was the faithful church pianist who made the the piano often sing as beautifully, or greater, than any choir or soloist. She was a master of her craft displaying this not by her words but by her actions. She could match a song’s tempo with the soloist providing him (me) with the needed boost to make it appear without flaw. She would play so effortlessly appearing to need no music as her eyes would often wander away form the notes to make contact with those in attendance.
For me, this is one of my special memories of Mrs. Kathryn Belle. It represents a single note. I am sure that others will have the same or different memories. That’s okay, too. Those additional memories – same or different – are more notes. Those notes, you see, create a stanza, a verse, a second verse, etc. They become notes on decades spanning work. They create the song that Mrs. Kathryn Belle Speed wrote each day she graced us with her presence.
It is the song she leaves us and is her final gift, the Song of the Southern Belle.
But, her piano is now silent.
Take a moment. Listen quietly at the silence.
Listen to the chimes and belles as the ring in the distance. Do you hear them? Be silent and listen.
Do you hear the piano?
It’s coming from a sanctuary and is growing clearer…louder…as we listen. This song is softly and majestically played with grace, poise and joy. To listen – to hear it – is beautiful. The emotion from the music warms even the coldest of soul.
Yet, from where does this music come, you ask?
It comes from a cathedral…a home…a church….a field..a meadow…a sanctuary.
This magnificent sanctuary is beyond anything you or I could imagine. It’s said that the streets outside are of gold. The choir singing can only be described as Heavenly. The piano, so grand that it appears to be a pure white with keys of silver and gold, is being played by a single angelic figure. This figure, dressed in flowing white, is looking out into the masses and making eye contact with reunited loved ones who have come to hear the music. She plays her song as if for the first time but for all eternity.
It’s all quite simple, you see.
Heaven needed a pianist.
Who better to fill that vacancy than Mrs. Kathryn Belle?