Dave's lesson had gone well - as well as lessons go when you're 83 years old and you're playing the Bach Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue. I was surprised to see him at my door ten minutes later.
"Wouldn't your car start?" I asked. He drives an antique Alfa Romeo that has given him problems for the last few decades.
"Could you please call 911?" he asked. "I'm having a coronary problem. Might be a heart attack."
Four minutes later two firetrucks and their crews were at my house.
Though his heart was racing at 160 beats per minute, he was a delightful, hilarious patient.
"Has this ever happened to you before?"
"Well, yes, but it just stopped on its own. So I guess you could say that I've irregularly had an irregular heartbeat."
"Any idea what caused this?"
"She's a really mean piano teacher and my heart just couldn't take it."
While they were trying to determine which hospital he should go to, I called another student, Stan the cardiologist. (Always good to have one of those up your sleeve.) He approved the hospital choice as being one of San Francisco's two best for cardiac care.
Four hours later Dave called from his apartment. Back home, safe and sound. Just an episode of elevated heart rate (tachycardia) which they were able to take care of in the ambulance on the way to the emergency room.
I've written about Dave before. I've taught him for 25 years. Yesterday reminded me of the hours we've made music together, laughed, told stories, how much we've shared. He's watched me get married, have kids, have heartaches, have successes. I like to think I've been there for him - teaching him at his house when he had leukemia, planning his surprise 80th birthday party. It started based on a shared love of music. It's grown into a real friendship based on well, real friendship.
He's coming over today to pick up his car. Boy, will I be happy to see him.