The piano in my living room symbolizes the generosity and encouragement that my parents and grandparents gave me when I was young.
When I was nine years old, I saw a piano truck parked in front of our house. I became ecstatic as a brand new upright piano rolled down the truck ramp and up our driveway. I still remember my mother’s quiet, pleased smile as she basked in my excitement – an emotion that I don’t usually display overtly. I knew that, even if all four of us children took lessons, the piano was meant for me.
My parents bought the piano shortly after my grandfather’s death. Just before he died, my grandfather, whom I adored, had asked me not to give up on the violin. I had been taking lessons for a few months and I used to play for him. I had begun to tire of the instrument, however, and wanted to quit. I remember him lying on his hospital bed in the back bedroom of his home when he made his request. But I understood, despite my young age, that it wasn’t so much the violin that he wanted me to pursue. Rather, I knew he wanted me to engage in any creative endeavor, anything that would take me outside a simply physical/rudimentary/basic/material/concrete existence.
He had married young and had six children through the Depression and World War II. He worked in a factory for almost thirty years before strokes and poor circulation took his mobility and his legs. It was not until adulthood that I understood what it meant to him to sit on the sofa, legless and paralyzed, and watch me play.
I did give up the violin and took up the piano with a timid passion. I never doubted for a moment that I had complied with his last request.
After his passing, my grandmother sold their home and gave each of her children some of the money. My mother, in turn, spent her share on her own children by purchasing the piano. My father paid for my lessons and attended my recitals, beginning a pattern of financial and emotional support for my many endeavors that continues to this day – all I have to do is ask.
Long after my siblings and I moved out, my parents hung on to the piano, waiting for the day that I had my own home. They sent it north a few years ago and it finally made its way to my living room. Two weeks ago, I started taking piano lessons again after almost thirty years away from it.
The selfless generosity and encouragement of my grandparents and my parents have guided me and, at reluctant times, prodded me to ask more of myself. The piano holds a place in my heart and home as a tribute to them. They presented principles to me for being a parent and a human being; the piano reminds me of those principles every day.
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