Friday, April 13, 2018

Eighty-Eight Keys To Happiness

If you read this blog to get your news, you have probably become disillusioned with the state of things. I understand how that could be. When I scan the headlines, searching for a topic for the day's entry, I am often stuck for something positive to share. But not today: My mother has started playing the piano again.
This may not fix things in the Middle East. It will not require a special session of Congress to hear the details. Sales of semi-automatic weapons will probably not be affected, but this counts as expressly happy news for those of us in the know.
A few years back, after more than seventy years of playing the piano, my mom had to stop playing the piano. The piano which has been the featured piece of furniture in her house and the house in which I was raised for all those years. It was not just a hunk of highly polished wood. When my mother sat down to play, it came alive and filled the house with Brahms, Beethoven and Mozart. She played in the afternoons, while dinner was cooking. It was her way of relaxing after a long day of getting kids off to school, laundry and house maintenance before receiving those same kids and their friends back home and preparing a meal for all of us to come together and press the reset button for another day. When my mother sat down to play, it was her way of taking a deep breath and letting it out through her hands.
It was the same piano, coincidentally, on which all three of her boys practiced and prepared for a world that would later be filled with music of their own. Though her sons never managed to move beyond the obligatory "I gotta practice" level of enthusiasm, we still marveled at my mother's talent and love for the music she was making. As we grew up and out of the house, excusing us from the lessons we still remember in distant recesses of our minds, we made room for my mother to have a dear friend of hers over to play duets. It wasn't an act they took on the road. Their performances were limited to the living room with plenty of breaks for chatting and a cup of coffee or tea. So very civilized.
When the time came to step away from the keyboard, the piano stayed, an albatross that stood as a constant reminder of what had been. ]
And now is again. My mother says she struggles a little with the tune of her baby grand. Sitting for all those months didn't do it any favors. Now she plays an hour at a time, getting herself used to the routine once again. She tells me that it was therapy for her. Not just because of the way it brought back the past, but how she could take an hour away from sitting in front of the news. And that comes as sweet relief for us all.

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