Family MemoriesI love to listen to the piano.  It soothes me when I am stressed.  It gives me a sense of peace that everything will be okay when I am anxious.  Many days I regret that I didn’t continue the childhood piano lessons that our neighbor offered all the kids on our street.  You could hear Mrs. Hess playing her piano when her windows were open.  She had passion for her music and didn’t care who knew it.

My mother had that same passion but was hesitant to share it with everyone.  She showed an inner joy when she played and kept it close to her heart.  Music was a refuge for her and brought out a smile and laughter that was infectious.  She played more during the day when she was alone in the house but I do remember the times that I would lay on the floor and just listen.  I was always amazed at how effortlessly she read the music in her beloved song books.  I eventually learned to read music for the right hand but the left hand was always just too tough to master.  She was proud of her talent but often when she played I saw her determined to find peace with the good and the bad memories that accompanied her in the background.  The piano helped her connect with me in a way that words never could.  I can go home again with that family memory.

No matter how good life could be, at times her mind struggled to reconcile her sadness of her own family memories.  Her childhood piano represented a friend for a girl who was left alone quite a bit and a created a way to feel special in a world that labeled her a latch key kid.  I have never forgotten a particularly sad story about her much anticipated visit with her father when she was sixteen years old.  She was able to connect with him again after his absence since the age of three.  Her heart was full as she had longed to have a close relationship with him.  When she returned home after a two week stay, she was met with an empty space where her piano had been.  She had been punished for wanting to connect with that father in the most hurtful way.  Her piano had been sold.  The cruelty of that moment defined her life.  Trust never came easily to her again.

Turn the page and picture her joy when my father bought her a piano.  I have never forgotten the look on her face and her sitting down picking up where she left off.  What a kind thing for my father to do.

When my parents divorced a decade later, my mother took that piano with her to every new house she lived in until she just couldn’t move it any more.  My sister now has the piano in her home and every time I look at it I see my mother playing, smiling, laughing.

Family Piano (350x303)

Mom Family Memory

My mother is now 81 years old and has lost her memory of our life together.  I spoke with her yesterday and told her how much I will always treasure her piano playing.  I surround myself with piano music so that I will never forget what she meant to me.  I can see the music, the pedals and the passion that playing fingers can express when words cannot.

When my husband and I bought our family home over thirty years ago, one of the first purchases we made was a piano for the living room (the picture of me and the kids playing Christmas music).  It has a special place and has been played many times by passionate fingers — young and old.  My mother sent me her piano books years ago and I keep them in a special basket next to the bench.  You can be anything you want to be when you sit down to play.

You can go home again with family memories.  Sometimes they sneak up on you in mysterious ways.  For years I could not understand why piano music touched me so much. I know my mom heard my praise of her yesterday–she stopped for a minute and said “oh yes, playing the piano.”  I will never lose my bond with her, all I have to do is listen.

I feel good that I can share this little piece of my mother with you.  Writing helps me sort through my feelings and I thank you for taking the time to read this post.  I love all things family and would welcome anything that you might want to share of yours.

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