By the Sound

By Paula Hunt

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    My soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous in a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads (D&C 25:12).

    Kelly tossed her book bag on the floor. She just had to talk to someone, and that someone had to be Grandma because Mom wasn’t home. “Grandma, Julie was so mean today—I’m never speaking to her again. She told Ryan that I like him.”

    Grandma set down the music she was practicing and smiled at her. “I can see that you’re angry.”

    “Of course I’m angry,” Kelly fumed. “You would be too.”

    Grandma chuckled softly.

    Kelly couldn’t believe her ears—her life was ruined and Grandma thought it was funny!

    All of a sudden Grandma began to laugh out loud. “Oh, Kelly,” she said finally when her laughter stopped. “You sailed in here just like a soprano I once knew. Everything made her mad, and she flounced theatrically here, there, everywhere, all around the opera house.”

    Kelly was mortified. “I don’t flounce, and not everything makes me mad.”

    Grandma chuckled some more. “Of course not, I know that. Come on, child, see some humor. If you don’t laugh about your troubles in life, you’ll grow old before your time. Being angry takes energy.”

    “I want to be angry,” Kelly mumbled.

    “I know,” Grandma nodded wisely. “Anger is such a strong feeling that you think you like it. But actually you don’t feel good inside right now, do you?”

    Kelly stubbornly refused to agree with Grandma. She had a right to be angry. Julie had been mean to her, and she hadn’t done anything to Julie—at least not at first. “I feel just fine,” she said grimly.

    Grandma chuckled again. “Remember, voices are my business. I can tell by your voice that you’re feeling bad inside. I think I’ll sing you a song. It’s helped me many times when I’ve felt all bad inside.”

    Kelly wanted to sigh out loud. Grandma’s opera songs were usually hard to understand, and most of the time they were in another language. She was in no mood for opera.

    Grandma began to sing softly:

    “‘Help me, dear Father, to freely forgive

    “‘All who may seem unkind to me

    “‘Help me each day, Father, I pray;

    “‘Help me live nearer, nearer to thee.’”*

    Kelly looked up in astonishment. The song was simple, it had a sweet melody, and it wasn’t opera. She listened quietly as Grandmother sang it again. She felt her anger melt away. “Where did you learn that? I’ve never heard you sing a churchy kind of song before.”

    Grandma smiled. “I never was much of one for church in the past, but since I was here last, I joined one.”

    “Which church?” Kelly asked.

    “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That’s where I learned the song—in Primary.”

    “What’s Primary?”

    “It’s kind of like Sunday School for children your age. They have classes, Sharing Time, and singing time. I lead the singing in Primary.”

    Kelly was astonished. Grandma was one of the country’s best operatic sopranos. She got paid a lot of money to sing in operas, and now she was leading music for little kids! “How much do they pay you?” she blurted out.

    A satisfied look came to Grandma’s face. “Not one single penny.”

    Grandma teaching music for free? She took a good look at Grandma. Grandma had been happy ever since she’d arrived. She sang and danced; she helped around the house. She got along well with everyone. “You’re truly happy,” Kelly said thoughtfully.

    Grandma nodded. “Yes, very happy. Learning about Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the gospel has brought me peace and happiness. I’d like to share it with you, especially—” Grandma winked at her—“the peace part right now.”

    “I suppose you think I should forgive Julie,” Kelly said grudgingly. “Like it said in that song.”

    Instead of answering, Grandma began to sing again:

    “‘Help me, dear Father, to truly repent,

    “‘Making things right, and changing my ways.

    “‘Help me each day, Father, I pray;

    “‘Help me live nearer, nearer to thee.’”

    Kelly stared at Grandma, “You don’t think I need to repent, do you? Is that why you sang the rest of the song?”

    “Was Julie the only one that did something wrong?”

    Kelly had yelled at Julie. But Julie deserved it, Kelly told herself defiantly. Aloud, she answered, “Yes, she was.” She refused to look Grandma in the eye. It was all Julie’s fault. It was!

    The rest of the evening the song whirled around in her head. She could hear it when she did her homework. She heard it when she brushed her teeth. She woke up the next morning with it ringing in her ears, so she put on the headphones to her radio to make her brain switch tracks. The new music worked—she walked to school, forgetting the song and all that Grandma had told her.

    As she turned the corner, she caught sight of Julie talking to Jamie on the playground. Julie saw Kelly and started to wave, then stopped and turned her back. Why is Julie mad at me? She’s the one in the wrong. Kelly hesitated, remembering the name she’d shouted at her best friend. It wasn’t a nice word. Maybe Grandma was right—maybe she should be sorry. When Jamie ran off to claim her turn at tetherball, leaving Julie alone, Kelly hurried over to her. “Julie, I’m sorry I called you that name.”

    “You’re apologizing to me?” She looked embarrassed. “I’m the one who should say she’s sorry.”

    Kelly grinned at her. “Yes, you should, too—now Ryan will bug me for the rest of the year.” They both laughed.

    Julie smiled again. “I really am sorry. I shouldn’t have done it. I was mad because you were playing with Jenny and not me.”

    After school, Kelly hurried home. “Grandma,” she called, “guess what.”

    Grandma was making cookies.“Julie and you are friends again.”

    “How did you know?”

    “Well forgiving and being forgiven make people happy. You look happy, and you sound happy.”

    “Grandma, do you think Mom would let me go to church with you this Sunday?”

    “There’s only one way to find out—we’ll just have to ask her.”

    Grandma began to sing a familiar song from an opera. Kelly felt so good that she joined right in.

    Illustrated by Beth Whittaker

    Show References

    • Children’s Songbook, page 99.