Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Around the Piano

With Christmas on the doorstep, I will take a break from Mom's diary.

Yesterday I was visited by my granddaughters. I'm teaching them to play the piano. They pulled out the pile of Christmas music and asked if I would play the songs they chose. We sang together as they watched my hands play across the keyboard.

As I have said in the past, the family always sang around the piano. Some of my dearest memories are of a family raising voices in beautiful harmony. I never knew a time without music.

Mom's blonde-colored piano was her treasure. It must have been a huge financial drain on their budget. Perhaps that made it more special. My grandparents on both sides had old, clunky pianos with yellowed, ivory keys. Grandad's piano was once a player piano. The old rolls were gone by the time I came along. Pianos were a part of many households. They entertained long before the radio and TV came into existence.

Children of all ages found their way to Mom’s piano. Little fingers would feel the joy of pushing the keys down and finding new sounds with each stroke. Mom would never have considered closing the keyboard. Youth from the church or friends of my sisters would stand around the piano as Mother played singing songs and laughing. The piano was probably the most important piece of furniture in that house on Neff Road.

A piano was one of the most important pieces of furniture that we bought as newlyweds. I don't think I probably considered what a gift it was that I had a husband who wanted me to have my new Everett Piano. It traveled with us to Wisconsin then to Oregon. Still my prized possession.

As babies, my children would stand at the piano with fingers barely able to touch the top of the keys. Sooner or later, I would make my way to the piano, pulling them up on the bench playing simple songs they loved. Sometimes we would sit on that same bench singing songs before the went off to school. However, as they grew up, singing at the piano was not something they wanted to do. A family tradition had taken a holiday.

Much of the old sheet music is held together with stitching along the side of the music. The music is tattered and worn some as old as the early 1900's. Some of the old Christmas music was Mom's. Silver Bells, White Christmas, Let's Light the Christmas Tree and more sit on the piano each year. "Can we sing more?" my granddaughter asks. Santa Claus is Coming to Town is placed in front me and my fingers play music box notes. My aging voice and two sweet voices sing at the top of our lungs. Music and laughter.

Maybe the tradition will continue. The girls both want pianos some day. Mom would be thrilled. For me, the day we stop singing together is a sad day, a day of losing something that once was very special and a part of a thing we called family there on Neff Road.

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