Sitting at my grandmother’s piano a few months ago, I remembered my resolve to teach my children at least as much about music as I have learned. (and we’re doing it!) Her piano is the deco-style Wurlitzer spinet (at top) that her working class parents bought for her during The Depression, no less. Only her father worked and yet somehow they made a way for her to take piano lessons from the time she was young. The copy of Little Women that I have is the one she won from her piano teacher for practicing the most. She worked hard at it and her parents dream was for her to study at a conservatory, but she never went because it wasn’t her dream. As a WW2 bride and mother of two in the fifties, she was satisfied to play hymns for her Sunday School class and a mission center. She made time for music in her daily life as she could, along with homemaking. This is the sheet music that overwhelms me. Of course she saw to it that her little girl received lessons too.
My mother didn’t take lessons as long even as her mother, but as a young woman working at a Texaco she saved and bought the piano I now have (botton pic) for her new home. From what my Grandmommy tells me, she actually taught herself much of what she used to play for her church class and mission. I remember hearing her pick her way through all sorts of songs from my bedroom. I think I was jealous of the piano when I was very small because I could sense how much she treasured those moments she would get in front of it. But by the time I was old enough to play, I loved hearing her assortment of hymns, Beethoven, and showtunes. I can’t remember a day where she didn’t sing. And a few years ago, I realized I am the same way. I need music. I think in music. I have a song for everyone in my head. I have calmed myself through labor, a hurting heart, and an insane mountain climb with singing.
I never thought I was much like her as a young woman. I would have loved to be, but couldn’t believe anyone could ever be as gentle and sweet as she was. And I’m not, but I have a lot of the same stuff. I have the same desire to learn in snatches of time, and the same rejuvenation from what my pressed fingers can make. I feel her, see her when I am at that piano. I hope my children catch a glimpse of her in it too.