CCCE- In Memory of “Robby”

I found this one at a site called “Pass Out for Jesus,” which is not, I was disappointed to learn, a Christian autoerotic asphyxiation site. It just has a bunch of stories its readers are encouraged to send in emails or print out and hand out, you know, to pass out. For Jesus.

~ In Memory of “Robby” ~

At the prodding of my friends, I am writing this story. My name is Mildred Hondorf. I am a former elementary school music teacher from Des Moines, Iowa. I’ve always supplemented my income by teaching piano lessons-something I’ve done for over 30 years. Over the years I found that children have many levels of musical ability. I’ve never had the pleasure of having a prodigy though I have taught some talented students.

However I’ve also had my share of what I call “musically challenged” pupils. One such student was Robby. Robby was 11 years old when his mother (a single Mom) dropped him off for his first piano lesson. I prefer that students (especially boys!) begin at an earlier age, which I explained to Robby.

But Robby said that it had always been his mother’s dream to hear him play the piano. So I took him as a student. W! ! ell, Robby began with his piano lessons and from the beginning I thought it was a hopeless endeavor.

As much as Robby tried, he lacked the sense of tone and basic rhythm needed to excel. But he dutifully reviewed his scales and some elementary pieces that I require all my students to learn.

Over the months he tried and tried while I listened and cringed and tried to encourage him. At the end of each weekly lesson he’d always say, “My mom’s going to hear me play someday.” But it seemed hopeless. He just did not have any inborn ability. I only knew his mother from a distance as she dropped Robby off or waited in her aged car to pick him up. She always waved and smiled but never stopped in.

Then one day Robby stopped coming to our lessons.

I thought about calling him but assumed because of his lack of ability, that he had decided to pursue something else. I also was glad that he stopped coming. He was a bad advertisement for my teaching!

Several weeks later I mailed to the student’s homes a flyer on the upcoming recital. To my surprise Robby (who received a flyer) asked me if he could be in the recital. I told him that the recital was for current pupils and because he had dropped out he really did not qualify. He said that his mother had been sick and unable to take him to piano lessons but he was still practicing. “Miss Hondorf . . . I’ve just got to play!” he insisted.

I don’t know what led me to allow him to play in the recital. Maybe it was his persistence or maybe it was something inside of me saying that it would be all right. The night for the recital came. The high school gymnasium was packed with parents, friends and relatives. I put Robby up last in the program before I was to come up and thank all the students and play a finishing piece. I thought that any damage he would do would come at the end of the program and I could always salvage his poor performance through my “curtain closer.”

Well, the recital went off without a hitch. The students had been practicing and it showed. Then Robby came up on stage. His clothes were wrinkled and his hair looked like he’d run an eggbeater through it. “Why didn’t he dress up like the other students?” I thought. “Why didn’t his mother at least make him comb his hair for this special night?”

Robby pulled out the piano bench and he began. I was surprised when he announced that he had chosen Mozart’s Concerto #21 in C Major. I was not prepared for what I heard next. His fingers were light on the keys, they even danced nimbly on the ivories. He went from pianissimo to fortissimo. From allegro to virtuoso. His suspended chords that Mozart demands were.

Magnificent! Never had I heard Mozart played so well by people his age. After six and a half minutes he ended in a grand crescendo and everyone was on their feet in wild applause.

Overcome and in tears I ran up on stage and put my arms around Robby in joy. “I’ve never heard you play like that Robby! How’d you do it? ” Through the microphone Robby explained: “Well Miss Hondorf . . . remember I told you my Mom was sick? Well, actually she had cancer and passed away this morning. And well . . she was born deaf so tonight was the first time she ever heard me play. I wanted to make it special.”

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house that evening. As the people from Social Services led Robby from the stage to be placed into foster care, noticed that even their eyes were red and puffy and I thought to myself how much richer my life had been for taking Robby as my pupil.

No, I’ve never had a prodigy but that night I became a prodigy. . . of Robby’s. He was the teacher and I was the pupil For it is he that taught me the meaning of perseverance and love and believing in yourself and maybe even taking a chance in someone and you don’t know why.

Robby was killed in the senseless bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in April of 1995. And now, a footnote to the story.

Do I even have to tell you that it didn’t happen? At least these people cleaned it up a little. Des Moines is spelled right, Robby isn’t playing piano (in the Murrah Federal Building? Wha?) when he dies. Still sappy bullshit, though. Select quotes:

Overcome and in tears I ran up on stage and put my arms around Robby in joy. “I’ve never heard you play like that Robby! How’d you do it? ” Through the microphone Robby explained: “Well Miss Hondorf . . . remember I told you my Mom was sick? Well, actually she had cancer and passed away this morning. And well . . she was born deaf so tonight was the first time she ever heard me play. I wanted to make it special.”

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house that evening. As the people from Social Services led Robby from the stage to be placed into foster care, noticed that even their eyes were red and puffy and I thought to myself how much richer my life had been for taking Robby as my pupil.

Couple things wrong here: enjoying music is pretty much culturally dependent. With the exception of percussion, which is common to all cultures and can mimic rhythms found in nature, like a heartbeat, a listener has to already be used to the type of music being played. It’s why old people don’t listen to rap and some Americans might not enjoy Chinese opera. It just isn’t what they’re used to. So why would a woman who’s been deaf since birth enjoy a Mozart piano piece now that she’s dead and can hear? That seems like a detail that wouldn’t sit well with the Deaf community. I’ll tell you what would have been a better story: if Robby had taken vocal lessons to impress his dead deaf mom. Then she would have gotten to hear the sound of his voice. That would at least make sense. Another thing that doesn’t make sense is that Robbie’s going to foster care now that his mother’s dead. She had cancer- she knew she was dying, Robbie knew she was dying, why didn’t she make arrangements for his care? Did she have no relatives or friends able to take the kid in? And why did the Social Services people come onto the stage to take Robby to foster care? They could have at least waited until he got offstage and had a chance to talk to people and, like, get some cookies and punch at the back. That was just adding insult to injury.

And now, a footnote to the story.

I think whoever edited this didn’t do a good enough job excising the “OMG and he was playing PIANO when he died!!1” part, because why does the last sentence start with “and” and promise a footnote? Unless you’re Paul Harvey (and if you are Paul Harvey, dude, you’re 88 and haven’t been relevant, well, ever, so you can go ahead and retire,) don’t end your story with an “and” sentence.

Scoring:
Severe and frequent grammar/spelling/punctuation errors
I don’t know if they’re formatting errors or what, but there’s some random capitalization going on here.

Snopes (and every other debunking-type site) presence

Out of the mouths of babes
I’m going to go ahead and call it that, because we’re supposed to all say “Aww, he wanted his Mommy to hear him play up in heaven.”

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6 Responses to CCCE- In Memory of “Robby”

  1. Tamara says:

    This kid seemed eerily calm and cool for someone who’s Mum passed away that very morning. “Remember how I said my mother was sick, well she passed away this morning, now let me play the piano and go out for cookies and oh yeah she was deaf all along.” Nerves of steel and a musical genius, that Robbie.

  2. Hannah says:

    Ya – like tha last chick said…to lose his mom who he cared for soooo much, he sure was calm….and if she was deaf, then why the hell did he want to play so bad in the time b4 the recital and then magnificiently she dies that day to hear him play.

  3. Roger says:

    I want to hear your opinion of this letter. Does it make sence or follow a logical thought process?
    I enjoy your critical analysis of “in Memoey of Robby” .
    This letter has been going around this month and I was hoping you would send me a comment.
    Roger Lewin

    . Dear Friends of Jesus,
    A Bright light is shining in the Dark Continent
    We just returned from a four month mission trip to Uganda, the “Pearl of Africa”. It is a land filled with rich resources, fertile fields, and warm hearted people. Its history is overflowing with tribal conflicts, corrupt brutal leaders, and oppressive religious entities, all of which contribute to an exploited and largely dependant general population.
    What is not found in most historic records is the penetrating impact that centuries of witchcraft and demonism have made. Combined with watered down Christianity (religion used for economic or political purposes, or void of the miraculous power of Christ), these spiritual forces sustain the grip of fear and poverty on this nation.

    I became aware of a spiritual force fueling corruption and poverty after visiting a large refugee camp north of Gulu. Half naked, frightened, and hungry people have huddled here for over 2 decades. 78% of the camp’s 9400 residents are children and 7% of the households are run by children. I found myself asking, why is this situation so desperate? Where is the help the world has sent to this region? Gulu has more registered NGOs (Non Governmental Organizations like Unicef, World Vision, Feed the Hungry, etc.) per capita than any other place on earth, yet the lasting impact on many of those who need help the most is nil. What is very evident both spiritually and physically is that good intentions are not sufficient. Goods and finances intended for victims are routinely diverted and absorbed by mechanisms set in place by many who have come to view this human tragedy as an opportunity to acquire personal wealth. Corruption runs from the highest levels of government right down into the camps themselves. Greed is a spiritual force.
    I was recently asked to help some collage students who had shipped a container full of donated clothes, school and medical supplies, to be handed out in two camps. The container had been trapped in customs and they paid large fees for storage and taxes. They needed help hiring a truck to transport the container from Entebbe to the camps near Gulu. Most drivers want quite a large fee to travel to Gulu because they either consider the six to seven hour drive dangerous or an opportunity to cash in on ample foreign funds. Finally seven months after the intended delivery date, the team arrived in the first camp and started handing out the relief with feelings of meaningful accomplishment and satisfaction. Soon a gang of professional looters appeared. They forcefully took the supplies that were in the truck and stated beating nearby children with canes to get them to give up the materials already handed out. With all the good intentions, over a year of time in preparations and delivery, $10,000.00 invested, the net gain only empowered a group of thugs whose lifestyles of alcoholism and child abuse are major hardships children endure in these camps. The best plan for these kids is not handouts, but self sustainability in their villages.
    Areas of Uganda north of the Nile River, gained international attention when the documentary “Invisible Children” was released. The entire Northern population has been traumatized by the demonically empowered “Lords Resistance Army” (LRA) which abducted more than 30,000 children for repopulating its fighting ranks, human sacrifices, and sexual slaves. This Army was highly trained by Arabs in the Southern Sudan and traveled through the bush, avoiding roads. This created a logistics problem that was resolved by abducting villagers to carry army’s supplies. Those who became injured, sick or couldn’t maintain the rapid transit through the bush were routinely killed and discarded. At the peak of the disruption, children fled their homes and hid from the Rebels each night to avoid being abducted. Some traveled hundreds of miles to seek refuge in the basements of buildings, or in the bush. These kids became known as night commuters, homeless and starving, their numbers peaked to over forty thousand during the late nineties.
    The “night Commuter” phenomenon has dwindled as a huge spiritual warfare front has been engaged by hundreds of unified churches. Altars used by the LRA leadership that have been satanic strongholds for generations have been identified and destroyed. The LRA is crumbling from within, and the land is waiting to be repopulated. Isaiah 32:18-20
    Uganda is a nation of Children. The average life expectancy is 49 and much of the middle aged population has been lost to violence and aids. The result is a society of child dependants who have never worked. God is opening a door for them to return to their villages now before they loose the older generation that can teach them to farm and become self supporting on their own land. This will break the cycle of dependency that has been established in the refugee camps. These kids need God’s Word, guidance, and mentoring.
    Repopulation is also a spiritual battle. Fear, anger, bitterness and un-forgiveness have kept over 1, 600,000 people paralyzed in the IDP (Internally displaced people) camps, refugee camps in their own country. We received a vision for repopulating one village centered on the person of Jesus Christ. One hundred churches organized to pray, fast, walk over the village and break the spiritual strongholds in the land and over the people.
    We met with Government and church leaders and were delighted to see that the Lord had gone before, planting the same vision in the spiritual leaders and elders of Bwobo village. Bwobo is about 22 miles south west of Gulu. It has a new school building built by the government, but unlike the other deserted village sites in that area with new school buildings, the government had started four classrooms in Bwobo School and they have been operational since June 2007. We were warmly received into the school and preached the Good News of Jesus to about 400 children from nearby Refugee camps, many of whom made decisions to live for Jesus. We were able to spread the vision of “repopulating” to camp and agricultural leaders, and a group of men like Joshua and Caleb who believe that God is bigger than any enemy in the land and are ready to act upon their faith.

    While we were in Uganda, an old well was reopened in Bwobo. Dozens of fields were planted with seeds and seedlings. Bricks were made to build 30 houses, building supplies were purchased for new homes, and land is being obtained for a church building.
    With this simple plan we have made a big impact. A solid team of responsible individuals are on the ground to oversee the work. Our total investment is still less than what those college students spent on that one container and its delivery. Rebecca Otango who is a Member of Parliament in Northern Uganda, says she is watching this project closely as it could provide a pattern for repopulating the entire 1,600,000 people in the Northern Uganda Region. Can you imagine an entire region repopulated for the glory of God and centered on faith in Jesus Christ! She noted that she has heard many plans for repopulation and they have all failed. She has also discussed this situation with a colleague of hers in the UN, what makes this plan different is the focus on Jesus Christ as the center of the community and faith that he will establish Bwobo on His Word. This plan will work!

    We need your help. For as little as $700.00 we can provide building materials to complete a house. $300.00 planted 30 fields of beans. 1266 families are waiting to move back to this one village. They are making their own brick, have built some small prototype homes. They have planted enough crops to feed themselves and not be begging for food by October 2007. They are busy digging up and clearing their fields. But the most important thing is that the spiritual battle is being won. Fear is broken from their lives by the power of God’s word. They are looking to Christ to fulfill His promises. No organization we have contacted has been able to offer us tools, seeds, animals, or any building materials. The Body of Christ has been the only source of contributions for this project. The plan is working, but we need to rise up and fulfill the Word of God to be rebuilders of the old ruins, and restorers of places long devastated. Isaiah 61.4

    Proverbs19:17
    He who is kind to the poor lends to The Lord, and He will reward him for what he has done.

    Proverbs 21:13
    If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.

    We have started small and are encouraged by Zechariah 4:10 to not despise the day of small beginnings. We’re trusting God to move on the hearts of people like you to help this small village grow. 100% of contributions to this project will rebuild families’ lives in Bwobo, Uganda. All administrative fees and our travel and lodging expenses are paid by “The Branches of Life Ministry” with funds that do not come from outside contributions.

  4. duckie says:

    even if his mom hadn’t made arrangements, he wouldn’t have been put in foster care. foster care is for kids who have a chance of RETURNING TO THEIR PARENTS!!

  5. Gigglez says:

    That’s so disheartening to see how clueless and cruel you guys can be. I was searching on Google for this story about Robby and the Piano Teacher, and had NO idea it would bring me to this. Happily, I copied the story in an e-mail and sent it to all my friends explaining how beautiful of a story this was (true or not), that the meaning behind it was so beautiful, that no one with a HEART or soul would or could deny. Truley, not even you guys. When you are so special as this boy is, you have a gifted goal you want to accomplish, and his was to play the piano for his mother to hear in Heaven. How precious is that boy to want to do something incredible for his mother. It’s amazing what God can do, and how he can effect our lives and our hearts in such a magical way. God is definately a part of that boy, and he gave him the strength to make his mother’s dream come true. Again, whether this story really happened or not, how can anyone deny how Beautiful this is??? We all should learn from this boy’s heart and take on the world with such beauty and grace. And believe me, I do not care if any of you think i’m sounding SAPPY, because I’m a very happy person, and that’s because of God and my loving family and friends – PLUS im proud to be sappy :). Also, just to note on the FOSTER CARE comment above….in a situation like this, he WOULD have been put in Foster Care….it is NOT just a place for kids who have a chance of returning to their parents..it is a place for children who have lost their parents/legal guardians and have no where to go, or for those who were living with their guardians and they couldnt be taken care of properly or abused them. Anyway, i certainly hope that none of you are TRULEY as heartless as you all sound on here. And with all my heart I say “May God Help You”.

    Thanks and GOD BLESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)

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