Watching my son and another man ease my piano out the front door felt like sending a child away to live with another family. I have such sweet memories of moving that piano from my mother and dad’s house in southern Indiana up to our house in Gahanna. We had rented a You-Haul, and when we finally pulled into their driveway after a 6-hour drive, my husband joked, “OK Steve. You take one end, and I’ll take the other, and we can get back on the road.” And then Steve, who was only about 5 or 6 began to cry, because he thought we were going to visit Grandma and Grandpa first. Of course we were, but Steve sometimes didn’t get my husband’s sense of humor. The other part of this memory occurred when we were driving across the bridge over the Ohio River, and I prayed that the kids would stay asleep in the back seat. I know that the weight of the piano made it hard to handle that You-Haul trailer, and especially going over the bridge, it made me very nervous. To add to my stress, the kids had found a turtle in the road in from of my parents’ house, and the turtle was riding in the trailer with the piano. I prayed it wouldn’t get squashed. The piano and the turtle both made it home safely, and the piano has enjoyed a long stay at my house. I can’t say the same for the turtle.
My daughter took piano lessons, but long before that, I took lessons myself. I learned to read braille music and memorized several classical pieces. I never did learn to play by ear. But I did enjoy learning and playing for my own pleasure. When my mother hosted a birthday party for my Aunt Vida who was turning 80, she asked me to play the piano. Normally, it would be my mother who would entertain the guests with music, but for this party, she would be busy hostessing. It was the one and only time I performed for other people, but because it was mostly family there, I wasn’t nervous. Now, when I hear a particular piece on the radio, like a Chopin waltz, I sigh with some regret, thinking, “I used to play that.” Every time I hosted a holiday party for my bike club, I gladly paid the money to have my piano tuned in preparation for the party. Several people in the club were very good pianists, and they would take turns at the piano. It always made me feel happy to have that piano played. It gave me more joy during those parties than at any other time, although there was one time that topped them all. That was when my mother and my very young granddaughter Meghan played Ode to Joy together, with Meghan playing her simplified version mostly in the treble keys, while Mom filled in with bigger chords. I am so thankful Steve caught it on his phone, and pulls it up from time to time when we get into a reminiscing mood. Meghan doesn’t play anymore, and neither do I. Kara’s daughter Brianna does, but she’s not here enough to make it worth taking up the space I need in my living room for other things.
I have moved that piano by myself to 3 of the 4 walls over the years, because I love rearranging furniture. Her final move came today, as she left with a very pleasant couple to claim her after my granddaughter placed an ad on line. They have 6 kids, and one is already quite good on the piano, and they are hoping the other kids will learn to play as well. One child has CP, and they are hoping to get a teacher who will come to their house. If playing piano music brings joy to that little girl, then it’s worth the sadness of saying goodbye to my long-time friend, my dear little spinet piano.
Author of “The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living A Daughter’s Memoir”
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