Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The piano

Last year, the house we rented in Redlands came with a piano. We were excited--Hannah had been wanting to learn to play, and we had been shopping for an affordable piano to no avail, so it was great to find a house with one already set up.

Around the time we last saw my mom alive--one year ago tonight--Hannah had been teaching herself to play "Kids" by MGMT. After my mom's death, I couldn't get the song out of my head--there are lines about "making mama so proud" that would bring me to tears, lines about a baby being born that would also move me deeply. The chords of that song reached right into my own heart and plucked some string that reverberated through my whole body.

This summer, I belly danced at the Orange County Fair. My troupe had performed there last year, and my mom had been in the audience--there are photos of her on Facebook still, clapping and looking so happy. While I was backstage this year, "Kids" came on over the loud speakers and I started to cry. My friend Nancy asked what was wrong, and I told her how that song felt so connected to my mom, how I wished she could be in the audience again. "She's here with you now," Nancy said. "She's showing you through the song." After we performed and were walking around the fair, a live band started to play that song; Nancy and I looked at each other, and I so wanted to believe that it meant my mom was there with us as we ate our corn on the cob, drank our fresh lemonade. Later in the summer, when we were shopping in Barcelona, the song came on over the sound system, and I started to cry again. My mom had so wanted to take the whole family to Spain, to explore the roots she had uncovered there. I like to think that this was her way of joining us.

About a month ago, I got a call from my former landlord, asking if we were interested in buying their piano. When we had given our notice, I had asked if they'd consider selling it, but they weren't ready to part with it at the time (it had belonged to the landlord's mother). Now that their own baby was due, they were ready to let the piano go. I wasn't sure at first--Hannah has a piano at her dad's house, where she spends most of her time now, and I didn't know if it would really get played here--but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted that piano. It felt connected to my mom, to the song, to the last night I saw her, to the way she keeps visiting me now. If I was going to have any piano in the house, I wanted it to be that one.

So now we have a beautiful Baldwin Acrosonic piano in our home, and Asher loves playing it (as you can see above). I love the way the sound rings through the house--big and rich, reverberating through my heart strings. It sounds like pain. It sounds like love.


  1. Oh! Thanks so much for continuing to share these sweet moments with baby Asher, Gayle! Bless his little heart!

  2. Beautiful, Gayle. Your mom is with you, in memory and maybe even in spirit. You did the right thing with the piano. I grew up believing that a house is not a home without a piano, so in that old-fashioned view, you have met the requirement. Have fun!

  3. I used to wake up to my mother playing Chopin, her favorite in the morning, when I was around six...a rented piano...those notes enter our bones. One of my favorite things was to hear my daughter play the flute as she was growing evokes memories, and spirits...wonderful that your Mom comes to visit... Almaluz xoxo