Someone or something you can’t communicate with through writing (a baby, a pet, an object) can understand every single word you write today, for one day only. What do you tell them?
You have brought me so many years of joy. You have given me hours of solitude filled with music that have taken me away far more effectively than Calgon ever could. Thank you.
I’ve always loved you, even before I knew how to make music with you. I remember you as an old upright in the apartment at 515 West 15th Street in Minneapolis. I would plunk one of your keys, listen, then plunk the next one and be fascinated by the difference and the connection. I think it was there that I learned “chopsticks.”
The next memory I have of you is in our house in Milwaukee, Oregon. You had changed into a spinet, and you were so beautiful. By that time, I had discovered a couple of beginner piano books that my mom had used while Dad was in Bible college, hoping to learn to play. But she had to work outside the home, as well as caring for all of us, and her piano dreams went by the wayside.
I used those books to begin to teach myself to play real songs on you. I would have died to have lessons, but there just wasn’t the money for it. There was a couple named Monty and Shirley who were both gifted pianists. When they came to visit, I loved to listen to them play and watch their hands fly across the keys.
I began to pay more attention to the musicians at church, and it was about this time that I realized I had a voice to sing, as well. I’d always loved to sing; I just didn’t know I was any good at it.
You followed us for five years in Oregon, and then we moved back to Minnesota and had to leave you behind. I don’t know how you managed it, but you morphed back into that same old upright that appeared in our dining room one day. Mom was so pleased to see my astonishment and excitement when I came home from school to see you sitting there. A bit older, keys a bit more yellow, but there you were!
An older lady in our new home in St. James offered to give me some lessons for free. She introduced me to classics I probably would never have tried on my own. By this time I was able to play for church services in the little church my dad pastored, and I was very comfortable doing so. I used to spend hours playing through the hymnal over and over again so I could play whatever I needed to play.
Off to college, and real piano lessons. I had a kind, patient, and compassionate teacher, Mrs. Brady. It was sad to both of us that I had not had lessons when I first started out, and had developed many habits that were difficult to correct. My dreams of becoming a master at the keyboard skidded into reality, and I was kerfuffled for a time.
However, I could do a bit more than an adequate job playing for church, and I especially enjoyed playing gospel music. I had become something of a freelance artist by then, learning to have fun with chords and runs and fill-ins.
Marriage, and I said a final goodbye to you as an upright. Instead, you morphed again into the spinet that still graces the wall of my dining room. You have moved with us many times over our 45 years of marriage, and you still sound just fine for your age. You have some chipped keys, and your wood has been developing some lines and wrinkles, but you still provide me with hours of pleasure. You carried my kids through various musical endeavors as I accompanied them and their instruments. One of them learned to play you and now has her own piano, a cousin of yours that I know you’d like to meet. Her kids are all learning to play, as well. I have another little girl in my life, in South Dakota, who also likes to play. I have a daughter-in-law who is truly gifted on the piano.
I just wanted you to know how much I’ve valued you over all these years. Thank you for the joy you’ve brought to all of us. You’ve often been my outlet for hurt, sorrow, joy, anger, or pain. I’ve shed tears while you’ve helped carried me through some hard places.
You have been there always, even when I’ve neglected you. You are my piano.