Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Our Piano

Katie always wanted to play the piano. She and Alyssa both have taken lessons. Initially, we had only an electric keyboard. That's not good enough when you're really starting to play songs....at least if you're trying to learn how pedals work.  So when we moved to Wichita Falls, and we had the space, and we thought we were done with moving around, we decided to start looking for a piano.

Wow! There's quite a price range for pianos! I had no idea. I had great memories of my cousin's piano. She was playing Christmas carols and everyone was gathered around, singing along. And then another friend with a huge room, had a baby grand piano. It was gorgeous. More like a furniture piece, than something to play. Although you could allow your thoughts to drift over to Dean Martin and his cocktail party guests gathering around for a little song. Not that that was happening in my house - or anyone else I know - but it gave me a warm Bing Crosby feeling.

So the quest for Our Piano continued.

Alyssa's interest in piano waned, but Katie's continued. She really enjoyed the teaching style of Mrs. Mahurin, who lived in Charlie, just a few miles from our house.  Mrs. Mahurin had been in that community for a long time and she knew a lot of people. She understood bargain shopping - even for pianos; and she knew just the one at a nearby church.  They had upgraded to a much nicer more modern piano/organ and this one was relegated to a dusty basement. The church told her they'd part with it for $100.

She called. We confirmed. That was that. Added bonus: we were just 3-4 weeks away from Christmas!

The church agreed to hang onto it for us. The plan was to pick it up on Christmas Eve. I don't really remember how this all played out. I must have taken the kids off somewhere and Ron orchestrated the ...not sure what to call when one tries to sneak a piano into a house!  But he threw a few blankets over it, adding some packing as if to disguise the shape.

When we returned, the girls were whisked past the wrapped "disguised" piano.  All was well.

One of our Christmas Morning traditions is that the kids can't go into the room with the Christmas tree until I'm ready for them. This means, turning on the tree lights, starting the Christmas music, making some coffee, adjusting the video or the camera - whichever we're using to record their reactions. I know, writing all that makes me sound a little...controlling? obsessed? nuts? Whatever. Don't judge.

So while they're waiting to emerge, Pete the Cat walks along the piano keys. I shoo him off there, but not before Alyssa shouts from the other room, "I knew it was a piano!!"

This piano. What it lacked in formality and even good tuning, it made up for in charm. One key really struggled to hold its note. The wood on it didn't match. Swaths of paint graced the front and the sides, probably from a tight fitting doorway during one of this piano's many moves. We were always going to sand those off and it could have looked wonderful, but we just didn't take the time to do that.

Plus, as a friend of mine in California told me, "Flat surfaces do not stay vacant for long in your house!" The piano quickly became the base for family pictures and knick knacks, a lovely desk lamp that cast a yellow glow into the room, a candle or two, and the obligatory metronome. Who am I kidding? Looking at it now, there are also matted photos from Ari that still need to be framed, some ear muffs, headphones, a wall hanging that fell and hadn't been rehung, some mail that never made it to the flat surface where it belonged.  Yeah, that piano could hold a lot of stuff.  Even the small piano bench would bulge over the years with Alfred's Basic Piano, or All-in-One music books. Plus, all the loose music that Katie would stuff in there from vocal lessons, musicals, or from her piano teacher.

But this is yet another blog post about time marching on.

Katie's moved to NYC, and the piano sits and gathers dust.  All the stuff still sits on it, but now it gathers dust too. Years before, Our Piano had been moved to a little front room.  It was crowded, but cozy.  Katie could sing really well, but she was often quite loud. A great thing for the stage, a little much for the living room. Unfortunately, she was often drawn to the piano when everyone was sitting around trying to watch television. It's hard to focus on CSI when Katie is belting out songs from Phantom of the Opera!  In retrospect, moving it to the other room, meant that she didn't play it as much.  I guess it was a line of sight kind of thing. And now, as I sit in this very quiet house, I miss the cacophony of kids - video games, television, laughter (and yelling)... and that piano.

But keeping the piano won't bring all that back. And, just as I've had to do with lots of the kids' "things" that I was hanging on to... I needed to find a way to let the piano go too. I called it cozy in that tiny front room, but that's really a stretch. It's overstuffed. (Have you seen The Hoarders show? The kids kept making me watch it over the summer. They reassured me that I was not there yet, but they could see if coming if I didn't get a hold of myself!)

Anyway...back to Our Piano. We considered selling it. But looking at that old piano from an objective buyer's standpoint, it wouldn't make us much money. They wouldn't see all the stories that are associated with it.  I sent an email out to my friends to see if anyone would want Our Piano. I was so happy to hear that my friend Cydney did! SHE would understand the stories that come with the piano. She would appreciate the history. She described the shelves that she'd like to build around our little piano to showcase it (and all of her other great art work). Perfect. She'd have to convince her husband that they really need a piano, especially since no one plays piano there, but I was confident she could do that.

After a little coordinating, we scheduled the movers to come on the Monday after Thanksgiving.

So as I wait for the movers to come pick up the piano, I have my moment in my crowded little front room with Our Piano.  I think about listening to Katie's voice through the years.  It got stronger as her range grew; I knew that by listening to her work on music at that piano.  I think about when Katie would play it if I was sick. Her voice and the music would waft up the stairs.  And I could just lay there and listen to her and her piano.  It was beautiful. That was my favorite.

I think of  my friend/her piano teacher, Marilyn Mahurin. She was such a wonderful life-line for me when we were surrounded by a community of people that really didn't like us much. Here she was, the minister's wife, sharing her books and ideas, commiserating when people were mean or judgmental.  We were connected with her for five years through piano. We watched her kids grow; we followed her when she moved into town. That piano she found for us reminded me that good people exist everywhere -  even when the loudest want to push them out of the picture.  You just have to get calm, look around, and find the Marilyn Mahurins. They're out there.


I'm happy Our Piano is going to go live in someone-I-know's house.  And I'm happy that we have such wonderful memories.  So the movers arrived and tilted it onto the dolly. I walked with them as they rolled it up the ramp and into the truck. They looked at me kind of funny when I wanted to take one last picture of Our Piano moving away.  Kind of like how I took pictures of Katie and Michael at the airport when they left.

They say it's our resistance to Change that makes it hard. So even though some little tears are squeaking out as I'm telling you this weird story about Our Piano, I'm trying not to resist all the Changes that are happening around me.  Really. I'm trying.


6 comments:

Reticula said...

I cried too. I too have a history with pianos. I guess I need to write about that.

You tell really good stories through inanimate objects. Maybe you should write a book: My Life as Seen Through the Eyes of My Things.

Cydney S, Romano said...

I cried too! I believe the objects we love hold a positive energetic vibration & the piano feels warm & inviting; that's your families doing. Now I need to write my post about receiving the piano!

Pleased said...

~~And now, as I sit in this very quiet house, I miss the cacophony of kids - video games, television, laughter (and yelling)... and that piano.~~

A homeschooling friend of mine dubbed that "the joyful din".

Showing my hoarding tendencies (which I'm absolved of the accusation since I cleaned out the 1300 sq/ft shop), I can't see why you had any reason to get rid of the piano! But I'm glad Katie can go somewhere nearby to play it when she comes home.

Sue said...

Reticula, I do like story-telling. Thats a really intereting take on a memoir...I like it!

Cydney, I couldn't think of a BETTER place for Our Piano to go. I might have to rename it now!

Pleased, I know. But I just feel this transition happening. And I think I'm just leaning into it.
I have heard Joyful Din as well. And, yes, that's what it is! I'm impressed with your shop-cleaning skills though!

hilinda said...

I have a piano story, too, but it doesn't have such a happy ending. I'm glad yours does!

Sue said...

Linda, I want to hear your piano story. Where are you going to write it?