We already had the tickets, so we went. Having my new power chair is exciting and I would have liked to have spent the day exploring our neighbourhood and seeing what the chair could do. But we had tickets to the opera (the live broadcast seen at a movie theatre) and, though we both enjoy them, Joe loves going. The theatre is a car ride away and there is no way that the power chair is crawling in the back of a Volkswagen Beetle, so it was into the manual and off to the theatre.
We knew that the event had sold out and the theatre manager had recommended that we get there 2 hours early to assure ourselves the opportuntity to sit together (there being only two spots where people in wheelchairs can sit with the person they came with). I brought a book and read for the first little while. The 500 seat theatre seemed impossible to fill but people streamed in and eventually we were glad of being there early. The seat next to Joe was taken early on by a woman who was approaching 200 years old. She walked with a walker, which she parked beside me, but she also had two brightly coloured canes.
She planted her purse on the seat next to her, claiming it for her husband. He arrived a bit later and then the two of them had a long discussion about what they were going to have for lunch. He wanted to go out and get it for her, she wanted to go out and get it for him, they eventually decided to go out together. They moved so slowly that a glacier would have beaten them in a sprint.
Finally the timer began to count down time for the opera to begin. The lights flickered on and off. It began. The music was luscious and beautifully melodic so I promptly slipped into sleep. Joe elbowed me whenever I approached snore-sleep. I fought for conciousness but lost the battle throughout the first two acts. At break Joe joked with me about how much I was obviously enjoying my outing and I remarked that I'd become the 'old men' I used to make fun of - the one's who slept through concerts that their wives dragged them too. Joe wasn't fond of the image.
He offered to go and get me popcorn. His reasoning was that if I was kept busy filling my face, I'd be more likely to see the third act. (I'm embarassed to tell you this worked.) As he was gone I glanced over at the elderly couple, he was leaned forward and holding her hand. He said, 'Go ahead, you want to.' She shook her head coyly. He encouraged her again.
Very softly, not much louder than a baby's whisper, she began to sing an aria. Her voice was strong and crystal clear. She sang just for him and his eyes closed as her music entered him. Slowly people around her hushed, you could see many searching for the source of the melody. Eyes would finally settle on her, the last option. Those further away, out of hearing, continued on chatting and gossiping. But our tiny section of a large theatre was hushed and quiet. Every ear straining to hear her voice, still strong, still pure.
She finished and several people clapped in appreciation for this live performance. She flushed, he grinned proudly. Soon the final act began - and the music was magnificent - but I'd already attended the concert my heart needed to hear.