Thursday, February 08, 2007

What makes the stories special ...

It's the people behind the stories, and the lives connected to the people. Today I met a man with stories about pianos. Hopefully I'll get to hear more of them and even photograph him with some of his musical creations! But I won't let the cat out of the bag on his stories right now. Let's just say that I heard some things that should be pitched to some publications, and I would like to be the one to do it. He was at my house today looking over a piano that had been on a long journey into my living room. It has some things that need to be fixed, and thankfully someone referred me to this man who I believe to be quite a unique expert! I'm sure I'll have more to share about him later ... in the meantime, meet Piano #5.

The piano pictured above isn't as grand or as unique as the ones I heard about today ... at least not in the world of pianos. But in my world? This piano can't be replaced by the most valuable instrument on the planet. This is the piano I hope to pass on through the generations, each with their own stories in the strings of this instrument.

There used to be another piano in my immediate family. It was from my mother's side and I believe there was a photo of my great grandmother seated beside it. My memory holds it as a wonderful old sepia print with an elegantly prim woman and a piano covered in some kind of needlework with pictures upon pictures set out on top. I learned to play piano on the same instrument (and I'm hoping I have my stories/photos right now that I'm actually blogging about this) and loved it because it was part of my family. People I was related to but never met played those keys, and that made it special.

Photos are in my albums of me as a child all the way to a young lady as I learned to express myself. It was my solace many times. The last time I played the piano was in my mother's duplex (she had moved to town after my parents' divorce on the farm) in Montevideo, MN. When she got ready to go to Tulsa for a wonderful opportunity to get her doctorate, the piano found a temporary home to be played and loved while mom was away. BUT - the piano was lost. At one point we thought it had been tracked down, but now we don't have any clues. (By the way, if anyone is interested in solving a mystery, leave a comment!)

My heart continues to break over that. Sometimes sad things happen ... sometimes a lot of sad things happen ... sometimes they pile upon one another until one's heart nearly breaks to bear it.

Piano #2 also has a little heartbreak for me. I was quite proud of the piano. This was MY piano. I worked and worked and bought myself a beautiful, black grand. It wasn't huge (it had to fit in my mother's duplex, after all, with piano #1 while I was "recuperating" from my first attempt at college), it wasn't glossy, but it was definitely GRAND and it was mine. Again, the solace in the keys found my heart many times over the next few years. The heartbreak? Well, it was for a good cause, but it was sold for a more "practical" instrument.

"Piano" #3 isn't really a piano. It was a dream I began to pursue in music and ministry. I needed a keyboard, the Christian band I was in needed a keyboard, and since I couldn't haul my grand piano with me as I went back to college (this time for Music Evangelism and Performance) it was sold and I bought a keyboard. This instrument went beyond my own solace and made a difference in the lives of others. This is where my own creativity began to give birth and I began to pour out of my heart not just in my own meditations, but in public. I brought this with me when I was married along with all my hopes and dreams of impacting the world.

You guessed it, there's heartbreak. My then-husband convinced me to sell mine (his was newer and better). Of course it made sense, but it wasn't mine and all my history left with that instrument. As an anniversary gift, however, a digital piano found its way into the living room. "Piano" #4 isn't a "real" piano. It was digital, but it was better than no piano! I don't recall ever writing any music on that one. I guess there's not a lot to remember. He talked me into selling that, too.

FINALLY ... my Piano #5 makes an entrance, and this one is SPECIAL! I have relatives who are making a big move, and after my grandmother's estate and much housecleaning going on, an old piano is rediscovered. Initially, it's future was the dump. Thankfully my father asked if I would be interested in the piano if it could be restored. WOULD I??? WOW! YES!!!

It takes a long, long time and thousands of dollars, but this summer it was finally done. The family met together on August 6th, my late grandmother's birthday. We all gathered at my father's home in Minnesota. My aunts have brought music from their childhood. This is the piano they played when they were little. Family favorites were played. My children looked bored (which bothered me), but the rest of us found tears in our eyes many times. I learned things about my family and heard stories I never knew. They talked about how they would dance in the living room to the music. They gathered together to sing. One aunt played a childhood song that my grandfather had dubbed, "Tinkle Tinkle BANG BANG" and we laughed and cried when we heard the music.

This piano is special. It's practically alive with the stories and the history woven into my family's tapestry. While I hope to still find the other piano, I feel like God has given me a special gift. Tears can't tell it, my heart can only feel it. I think it's time for me to play again.
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