One night when I was driving down from Canada to Arkansas, I stopped at Jackson, Tennessee.
A few months before, an old girlfriend of mine, LK, introduced me to a wonderful place in Jackson called Casey Jones Village and I thought I would pop by to see if it was still open.
As I pulled in and parked, I could tell they’d had some kind of festival or concert there and, sadly, it looked like I’d missed it. Everyone seemed to be packing up. Rather than head back out on the highway, I decided to get out and stretch my legs and have a bit of a poke around.
I’ve never had bad luck meeting people in The South.
I headed toward the Old Country Store & Restaurant as there was group of musicians gathered there just to the left of the store. Looked like maybe they were a family. Two young ladies on violin. Two older gents on guitar. A stand-up bass. A banjo. Perhaps a harmonica.
I’d almost reached them when they lifted their instruments.
And that is when I heard it.
That small group of musicians started playing the beautiful Tennessee Waltz.
I just froze in my tracks, taking it all in. I was transfixed.
I’m not sure if any of you have ever experienced a perfect moment. I did that night at that place.
The music. The night. The mild night air. A gentle breeze blowing the long blonde hair of one of the girls playing the violin.
I was in awe.
It was like looking at a Norman Rockwell painting come to life.
Although I know it’s not possible, it seems to me I held my breath the entire time. I was so afraid that if I spoke, if I moved, if I did anything… I would spoil the absolute perfection of the moment.
I’ve always liked the Tennessee Waltz. But on that exact night at that exact time and place… it was the most beautiful tune I’d ever heard.
When they finished, they began packing away their instruments.
As I quietly came forward, I noticed a big old mason jar with some money in it. Not a lot of money, I’m sad to say.
I took all the cash I had on me and rolled it up, put a $5 bill around the outside and placed it into the mason jar. It must have been around $400, I think. And I actually felt guilty for not being able to pay more… to pay them as much as they were worth in my eyes.
You see, I wasn’t giving them money. I was merely trying to pay back a small token amount of what they had given to me that night.
You can’t put a dollar value on perfection.
I’ll always remember that night… and The Tennessee Waltz.