She would ding when she should dong, dang when she should have rang, and sometimes would clang for no apparent reason. Emily had been in the Amherst Women’s Club bell choir for thirty-five years and now her hearing was failing.
Talented, her musical duties evolved over the years from swinging and shaking to a more complicated martellato, where she skillfully created the tricky staccato tones made by striking the bell into the foam-covered table in such a way that the clapper strikes the casting immediately after the bell strikes the foam. Emily nailed it every time until, at eighty-nine, her ears book-ended a gathering fog.
Emily wanted her swan song performance to be at the Fall Ball. Friends were concerned, but Emily arrived at the first practice with modified bells sporting crocheted clappers. She attended every practice and learned all the arrangements, though another woman took over her part.
No one spoke of the ruse and Emily appeared to hit all the notes. She received a standing ovation, and after the buffet dinner took the podium and dinged her wine glass to get everyone’s attention [F#7].
“I want to thank the choir for the chance to stand up here one last time, and if anyone needs some silent bells, just drop off some yarn!” The room erupted in kind laughter and good cheer. Emily passed before Christmas and we smiled at her service. She was a hoot.