Friday, March 22, 2013

The piano

I grew up living exactly one city block away from my Grandparents. It seems like my brother and sister and I were down there all the time. It was such a big deal to finally get to the age where we could walk or ride our bikes down there and vistit them by ourselves. We would go down there constantly.

My Grandparents had a very large house. I loved exploring it. There were two stories and an attic with lots of little nooks and crannies to find knicks and knacks of all sorts. We spent most of our time there in the den in the back of the house, and in the front of the house was a formal living room. In this formal living room was an antique, five octave piano. When holidays would roll around I remember my Grandfather and other relatives playing the piano and fiddle and singing. It is a wonderful memory that I will cherish always.

My Grandfather passed away in the mid-nineties, and my Grandmother follwed about eight years later. After she passed away, my Mother and her siblings began the long process of sifting through all the old albums and drawers that were left of my Grandmother's things, and they had the duty of splitting up who got which piece of furniture. The major pieces when first. Everyone had their favorites. I stood quietly on the sidelines, like always, just listening to who wanted what. I was listening for one thing. The piano. No one had mentioned it. Finally when everyone seemed to have claimed the things they had wanted, I quietly asked my Mom about the piano... worried that it was just overlooked and that one of them really did want it.

As it turned out, the ones who would want a piano already had one, and no one else was intrested in it. With a glimmer of hope, I asked if it could be mine, and much to my surprise the answer was yes. What a blessing it was for me to inherit this piece of my family history. I was thrilled to be able to take it home and keep it, and use it, and wait for the day I would have children who would learn to play it and pracitce on it. I was entrusted with this piece of furniture, and I took that resposibility very seriously.

The piano made the move to Arkansas with me and took it's place in my living room to be played and cherished. My boys came along, and I dreamed of the day I could start their piano lessons.

On a spring-like day in early March 2010, the unthinkable happened. Our house caught fire. Not all of the house was lost, but it would have to be completely gutted and re-built. A company came in and totally cleared out all of the furniture and belongings that were in our house to see what could be saved and what was lost. Everything was loaded up into their big truck, including my piano.

For six months we waited for the house to be re-built. During that time I tried hard not to think about the fire. I altered my route to work so I didn't have to drive past the house. I refused to go back in it untill all of the black had been removed, and it had been gutted. The clothes I was wearing the day it happened got buried in the bottom of a box and never worn again. I couldn't stand looking at anything that reminded me of that terrible day.

In September of that same year the house was completed. We started the long process of moving back home. The items that were lost we replaced with new, and the ones that were deemed savable were either returned to us 'as is', or restored and returned to us. My piano was brought back to me unrestored and in desperate need of repair.

I was surprised at how much stuff was actually saved and returned to us. As I opened box after box I found hundreds of bits and pieces from our life six months earlier. You would think that discovering that I still had a lot of the things I had before would make me happy, but it was quite the opposite. The more boxes I opened, the sadder I got. The more pieces of furniture that were brought in my house, the more anxiety built up inside me. I didn't want to see these things. I didn't want any of it. I wanted to start over, all new stuff. I didn't want to be reminded of what the house looked like before it burned. The house was different, and I was different. I wanted to get rid of all of it.

So I did.

Two weeks after we moved home I had the largest yard sale you've ever seen. If it wasn't a photo album or yearbook, it was in the sale. Including my piano. I had a little hesitation when I rolled it out the door for the sale, but I knew it was in need of repairs that we just couldn't afford at that time. I convinced myself that someone else would be able to take better care of it and get it fixed like it needed to be. And I even felt happy when a couple bought it to take and fix to put in their church. I thought that it would be a nice home for it.

I remember thinking at the time that I would one day regret selling my piano. That day is here. It's now three years later, and I get very sad when I think of it. My piano. My Grandparent's piano. I was trusted to take care of it and keep it in the family. I failed. I try to tell myself that it was just a 'thing', and that I shouldn't worry about 'things', but I had something that my family and I held dear and now it's gone. I have let them down, and there's nothing I can do to bring it back. The sadness is overwhelming.

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