I remember Auntie’s phone call, offering me Grandma’s piano. If you want it, it’s yours, she’d said, as if gaining ownership of a 1950’s family relic was no big deal – another phone call made, another offer accepted. I’d said a hearty yes-yes-yes without hesitation, this the piano my father and his three siblings all learned to read music on, malleable minds conjuring the difference between black and white, sharp and flat, octave and single-step note.
This, the piano my grandmother’s fingers effortlessly danced upon, the holiness of hymnal filling her house on the hill, the hilarity of ragtime that provided us with permission to grab hands and dance in the living room.
This, the object our family gathered around after meal times, when voices young and old joined together in magical eight-part harmony, our harmonies an extended prayer of praise.
Really, we didn’t see Grandma and Grandpa more than once or twice a year, when weather and Dad’s vacation time and money permitted. But then there we were again: passing through Auburn and Grass Valley and Nevada City, driving up North Bloomfield Road toward their yellow ranch house. Scrambling out of the car, we’d bound across concrete steps, pausing first to examine our names carved in once-wet cement, flinging our bodies into wide, welcoming arms. Once inside, I’d waste no time. I’d head straight for the piano.
“Are you practicing everyday, Cara?” Grandma Mac would ask ten-year-old me, her feet trailing behind my own. Scooting me to the edge of the bench, she’d nestle beside me, two warm butts fitting squarely on 30 x 14 inches of wood. I’d nod my head firmly, cheeks reddening as I wiped sweaty palms on blue jeans. Dry fingers, dry! I’d command seemingly drippy appendages. Then, with heart pounding, I’d give her my best, fingers outstretched, back straight, shoulders relaxed. I’d play “Fur Elise” or “Allegro in G,” because I just wanted to make her proud, I just wanted to please my grandma.
…Oh friends, this is just the beginning of the story. I’m delighted to write today for my friend Cara Strickland, whom I not-so-secretly call The Other Cara. This is part of a series called [de]tales, about that single object that tells more than a single story. So click here and read the rest!