Timothy’s Violin

Inspired by a dream, Julie Andrews’s story tells of a little boy who longs to make his father proud.

Timothy's violin and sheet musicThere was once a king who lived in a palace. He had a beautiful wife and two lovely daughters. He very much wanted a son and at last a baby boy was born to them. All seemed perfect, yet something was not quite well with the little one.

Timothy’s mother pushed him round the garden in a chair on wheels and talked to him about everything all around him. Timothy learned the names of everything, but he was not able to speak them out properly – he just made sounds that nobody could understand.

Yet Timothy did understand and found it hard that he was not able to do what other people could. He watched as his sisters ran around and played games, but though he tried he could not seem to move his arms and legs to catch balls and skip, or even feed himself properly.

Timothy’s mother and father thought he was a beautiful child. They loved him very much. They wanted to do all they could for him. When Timothy was about six years old, the King asked the doctor who came to see him what they could do to make him better. The doctor replied, “You are doing all you can for him – he will never be able to run around like the other children.”

After the doctor had gone, Timothy’s father said, “Oh our poor little Timothy, what is to become of him?” Then he kissed him and left the room. Tears came to Timothy’s eyes. He knew his father loved him, but he so wanted him to be pleased with him. He knew that, through no fault of his own, he could never be the son he wanted to be for his father.

Timothy’s mother often read Bible stories to him and prayed with him. Timothy somehow felt one day everything would be different, so he prayed in his heart ‘Please God, help me to make my father proud of me.’

The family often had musical concerts in their home and people used to visit. One of Timothy’s favourite things was to be taken with his sisters to hear these concerts. Nurse Grace took him to watch and hear as many concerts as possible, as she saw they pleased him and made him happy. She could tell that all the children enjoyed the concerts and Timothy’s face would light up every time he heard music. Timothy especially loved to hear the violin; he could have listened to it being played all day long.

One day Mother and Nurse Grace took Timothy into the local village and they looked in the shop windows. As they gazed into one shop, Timothy appeared to be very excited and his mother realised he was looking at a violin for sale in the window. “Would you like that violin?” she asked. As best he could Timothy showed that he would, more than anything in the world. Mother said she would ask his father when they returned home.

Timothy’s father could not see the point in him having a violin if he could not play it, but as he was rich his wife managed to persuade him, for she knew how much Timothy would like it. So the King bought the violin and it was put at the foot of the bed where Timothy could look at it whenever he wanted. Timothy imagined he was playing it and many beautiful tunes came into his head.

The years went by and Timothy grew quite big. His mother and father always came to kiss him goodnight. Timothy felt his father sometimes looked at him sadly. He looked at his father’s face and wondered if he was wishing he were like other boys his age. The King was really wondering if more could be done to help Timothy. He did not realise how much pleasure the violin had given Timothy and how happy the gift had made him.

One day the maid who cleaned his room said to Nurse Grace, “My sister is getting married tomorrow.” She was very excited and was looking forward to the celebrations. “The only sad thing is that we cannot have dancing after the wedding, as there is nobody to play for us and we would need music to dance to. My father is poor and cannot afford a musician and we do not have any friends who can play.” Timothy listened with great interest.

The next day Timothy just rested with his eyes closed and he imagined he was able to play his violin for the wedding. When the maid next cleaned his room she chatted excitedly about the wonderful wedding day. “And can you believe it,” she continued, “we were able to dance because a young man came along and offered to play for us. We had never seen him before and when my father said he could not afford to pay much the stranger just said, ‘It would be a pleasure to play.’ He was wonderful and played beautifully and we all had such a happy time.” Then she said a surprising thing, “He looked a bit like you Timothy.”

Over the next few years Timothy often dreamt he was playing his violin, going all over the world. Whenever a musician was needed he would turn up and play and it always made people happy. He knew he was dreaming but it seemed very real to him.

However, Timothy was becoming weaker and spending more and more time in bed. Then one sad day, with his mother and father by his bedside, dear Timothy did not wake up. He had died and gone to Heaven.

As his father was the king, a big funeral was arranged. The service took place in a cathedral. There were wonderful hymns and a choir singing. As the service came to an end, a staircase suddenly appeared, leading down from the ceiling of the cathedral. Walking down the staircase was a young man with a violin under his arm. When he reached the floor the violinist began to play the most beautiful music anyone had ever heard. At the end of the recital the violinist bowed and there was great applause. Then he stepped onto the staircase and walked up away from the congregation. At the top he turned, gave one last wave of his hand and disappeared. There was a hushed silence. Tears came to everyone’s eyes as they realised they had seen and heard a vision of Timothy playing his beloved violin.

Over the next few months, as the news of this event spread, messages started coming in from around the world describing a stranger who had, over the previous years, simply appeared when a musician was really needed, played his violin and then disappeared without asking for payment.

Timothy’s father listened to these stories with great joy and one day he turned to his wife and said, “Timothy has made me the proudest father in the whole world.”
This story was a dream. A few years ago I knew a boy called Timothy who a friend used to look after and I feel he is the reason I had the dream, so this story is named after him.

I have more recently known two people with Rett syndrome , one adult called
Mandy and another child called Francesca. They have inspired me to write up my dream.

I would also like to dedicate the story to my dear husband, also named Timothy, who went to Heaven a year ago .