*This story was written between my mother and I. After sending her my story of the piano, she sent me hers. With better understanding of the life the piano lived before me, I wrote her full story. Thank you mom. Happy Mothers Day.
It’s still strange to call her mine, but she is now. This piano, a beautiful Baldwin Baby Grand has lived through three generations, three separate lives. In 1947 Her life began. My grandma, my mom’s mom, brought her home. My grandma had taken piano for eighteen years and majored in music at Women’s College in North Carolina for two years. Her mother wanted her to be a concert pianist, but she wanted to play jazz, as it was the 20’s. Eventually, she transferred to the University of Pennsylvania and majored in English in the Education Department, the only school open to women at the time. She graduated in 1929. Piano was no longer her interest, but it still held a special place in her heart which is why she brought this one home to join the family. She held the honored place in the large living room. My aunt took lessons for several years but didn’t have a love for it, or the perfect ear her mother had. Unfortunately, you had to beg my grandmother to play. She was burned out and also had beautiful long well manicured nails she wasn’t willing to cut short. But when you could talk her into it, it was a heavenly sound. Her nails clicking on the keys was part of the beauty. My grandfather could only play “The Spinning Song”, and would whenever asked. My mother took lessons during sixth and seventh grade, but her talent and love since she was four years old was ballet, so she continued ballet and dropped piano. The piano had a good home.
…but I know she wasn’t played as much as she is now.
She moved several times, I know this because my mother did. And wherever my mother went, the piano followed. Every move they made across the U.S., no matter what was left behind, the piano always came with them. Following my mother her whole life …until recently. My mom gave her to me. Even though my father is the one who played the piano, she reminds me of her. Maybe because she was around her all those years I wasn’t. As she moved around with my grandma, the piano was I’m sure loved and taken care of, and I’m sure she never minded the smaller and smaller living quarters. But I bet she wished she was played more. When my parents bought their first home she followed. Her second life began before my first. She was at my house, watching me grow up, making memories with me even before I could make them. Still, I wish I could’ve heard my grandmother play just once. My father played. He could play any music you set in front of him …but I never heard him play one second of HIM. My brother and sister played. They took lessons from a lady around the corner. I don’t remember ever hearing them play though. I don’t remember my mom playing either, but she always loved the sound. When I’d sit down at the piano, I played songs that sat in my fingers. No one ever taught me how to play. I expressed the most interest to actually get to know her, but it was up to me if I were going to get to know her better. Years passed and she moved with us a couple times. Still following my mom of course.
…or maybe she was beginning to follow me now.
My mom almost sold her when we moved to Arizona, but she didn’t want to go with them. She had already found me. And now she has a home where I have a home. Everyone who walks by her plays her and admires her beauty. She stays up late making music as the life of the party. It’s what she’s there for. A few bumps and bruises over the years do not distract her, looks are of very little concern. She was built to be played. To make beautiful sounds and music that bring people closer together. She was meant to stay up late and feel the fire in the cold winter nights. Covered in alcohol and ashtrays, fingers pressed gently against her skin. As the night goes on and the drinks flow, the touch becomes much firmer as she screams louder, singing her way through the night. She’s already helped write some amazing music that may have never existed without her. As a home, we are thankful for her presence. Just the sight of her makes me smile.