LOVE STORY: Feelings for dreamy pianist spans years |

LOVE STORY: Feelings for dreamy pianist spans years

Henry and Cathy Melendres

It was 1963, and Cathy was in her glory, with good grades and many school activities such as junior prom, senior show, cheerleading, synchronized swimming and modern dance. She decided to drop piano lessons. Her piano teaching mother had said, “OK, but first, come to a rehearsal at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.”

Suddenly, into the conservatory walked a tall, dark, slim, handsome guy with hair. He bowed with a flourish, played the piano as if making love, leaning into the keyboard, slightly moving his lips as if whispering, and moving his head, fingers, and arms in accordance with each emotional nuance of the music.

Cathy wanted to meet this piano player. Her mother said, “No, he’s much too old for you.” She did not meet him, and her reverie eventually faded away in the midst of school activities, minus the piano.

A year later, her mother took her to the opera house. The opera house decor was overwhelming. After they found their seats, the house lights dimmed, and out walked a tall, dark, slim, handsome guy with hair. He bowed with a flourish, flipped up his tuxedo tails, and sat down. His movements seemed vaguely familiar. As he leaned into the piano and moved his head, fingers, arms, and lips Cathy was more certain she had seen him before.

After the performance, her mother asked her if she would like to go back stage to meet the pianist. She eagerly agreed. They waited in line, while Cathy became increasingly flustered. When they finally reached him, Cathy could not speak. She floated out of the opera house. After a time, her dream faded, she graduated from high school, went on to college, and had a career as an airline stewardess, then as a deputy sheriff in Oakland.

In 1981, Cathy’s girlfriend, Dolly, invited Cathy to a Halloween party in San Francisco as an opportunity to meet a piano player named Henry. The party was held in a Victorian home. Guests were to enter through the back gate and climb up spooky stairs. Dolly’s guests jovially walked up. When Cathy arrived at the top of the stairs, she found herself alone with Henry. Dolly’s other guests had quickly walked through the house and out the front door.

As the abandoned pair walked through the rooms looking for their party, they came upon a box grand piano. Henry sat down and played Chopin’s exciting Fantasy Impromptu, combined with Love Story. As she watched his head, fingers, arms, and lips, she suddenly recognized him as the same pianist she had swooned over years ago.

They spent the evening dancing away. After a whirlwind romance, Henry and Cathy married.

Henry and Cathy Melendres

Carson City