Woman shares joy of music at church

Published 3:46 pm Wednesday, November 25, 2015

“It’s the feeling, or the connection that I feel when I play the piano,” Margaret Rushing said about her love of music. “I have that feeling. When I play, I try to get the feeling from the song, and carry it into my fingers.”

For the past 60 years, the 86-year-old has played piano at Union Hall Baptist Church on 1242 Nola Road NE.

“That was my father’s church, and I grew up there,” Rushing said. “I played music. It fell on me when we didn’t have a pianist. Sometimes we’d have a pastor and his wife would play, but most of the time I did it.”

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Rushing has been playing piano since she was about 8. She was encouraged by her mother and her music teacher Elsie Hemington. Her mother would do chores at night so she could practice, and she sold butter, eggs, chickens, and even geese to pay for music lessons. Her music teacher would have prizes for whoever could practice the longest to keep things fun.

“Be serious about your work, and if you’re serious enough, you’ll fall in love with it and it’ll be part of you,” Rushing said.

Rushing’s daughter Cheryl Calcote said her mother was dedicated to making it to church and playing the piano, despite a foot surgery that’s kept her in wound care.

“Even though she’s had some health issues in the last few months, she pushes herself to be there, because she wants to be there,” she said.

Rushing was once the recipient of The Daily Leader Golden Deeds award for her kindness.

“[She was] driving people to the doctor, helping purchase their groceries, bringing food, picking them up to go to church and caring for everyone she could,” Calcote said. “To meet her is to put smiles on faces.”

In addition to her talent with the piano, Calcote said she’s also talented in the kitchen.

“She is famous for her big dish pan full of homemade chicken pie and her egg custard pies,” Calcote said. “Church dinners at Union Hall make people scramble to the head of the line. When someone is sick or just needs cheering up, Margaret shows up on their doorstep with egg custard pies.”

“Last Sunday, she was hurting, but she went to church and played piano Sunday morning and Sunday night,” Calcote said. “She does not like to have to stay at home and not be out there being active. Her musical talent continues to be a blessing, but she would say that she is just doing God’s will by blessing her with a devotion to a life of serving God and others.”