Vivian may have had Alzheimer’s, but she remembered how to play Chopin to the end. She played in her care facility, according to her son. Despite the disease, she was still Vivian. And bodily memory must count for something.
When I met Vivian she was composing a special piece, inspired by Chinese gongs, to play for her research club. They were studying China that year.
They say she was headed for greatness – trained at a top music academy, ready to compose for the world. She played in Granada, Prague, London… But she stayed in this small town and made an enormous impact.
Now, months after her death, comes the memorial service to die for. The people she trained in piano play in her memory. They play her compositions, they play her favorites. They pause and reflect on their teacher and role model, and then they play again. They play in the chapel, where Vivian used to play. Their fingers touch the same keys. And the rest of us, in the pews, now fully understand the gift she has given us.