It plays in my head a little bit like a song, this concept of not knowing yearning before kids. I never knew what it felt like to want something with all of my being, to be consumed by the pursuit of something purely for the purpose of bringing joy to another person. I understood the things that would make me happy and I worked toward them, but I never persisted with the single minded focus that I do as I strive for my girls.
Fixing the house, structuring my schedule, creating memories, they are all fueled by an unabated hunger to delight the girls. This isn’t to say that I indulge every whim, but when there is room for magic, opportunity for awe or the potential to ignite wonder, I seize them.
We were at a friend’s house recently and the girls were enthralled by the old piano sitting in the study. They would spring from our arms to go and caress the keys, broke from the meal to make it sing. The only thing that brought them greater joy than tickling the ivories was having someone there to watch or play with them. Their peals of laughter floated up from their perch on the bench and danced pinging off the walls. Our conversation and eventually the entire tenor of the day, became laced with the infectious enchantment of two pigtailed little sprites.
Later the same day I posted a picture from their recital as my screen saver. Sean warned me that if I didn’t change the picture we would have a piano by the end of the month. I laughed, seeing him so moved by their joy touched me in that irresistible way that only dads devoted to their daughters can.
From the first time Sean put headphones on my pregnant belly, we had dreamt of having a piano. Now we knew that girls had the music gene. It seems such an essential thing, this nurturing of passion, particularly musical or artistic, and so the yearning began to burn. I had looked casually for months, scanning classifieds and online auctions, but never taking it too seriously.
A piano for our girls. How could we possibly afford it? Where would we find it? How would we move it?
“Mama, is that the piano we were playing?” Briar asked pointing at the screen and interrupting my reverie.
“Yes, baby, it is. You were making beautiful music.” I said with a smile.
“Can we do it again? Can we go to Debbie’s and play with that guy to the piano?” She asked, remembering Harold and his playing with a twinkle in her eye.
“Not today, honey.” I said, trying to hide any hint of the ache I felt. How magic to have a piano, to have their fingers run across the ivory instead of the keys on a Mac keyboard. I set my computer aside and called to the girls to play blocks with me. Everything we built represented a piano to me.
Pedals protruding from a base.
Later, after bedtime, I scoured the internet, poring over Craigslist listings within 300 miles. Bleary eyed and defeated after a couple of hours, I was poised to turn off the computer when I found one: Upright piano. Must go. Redecorating, the listing was less than a hundred miles away. Sean had said he’d love to get an old upright like Deb’s. I clicked on the link.
Dark and tall with areas worn and light. There were four spindles along the top with two matching on either side down below. The bench was dinged and plain. It wasn’t perfect, but it could be ours. I called to Sean and had him look. At first he was unimpressed, but over the next day or two he called the picture up time and again.
“Know what, babe?” He asked.
“What’s that?” I answered.
“I like it. I really like that piano. Let’s go for it.” He was smiling at me.
“Really?” And he nodded.
We drove to the people’s house to see it. They were a couple with two preteen kids. “We bought it for them but they never really took to it.” They stumbled over each other, talking about how one took up flute, the other drums. The excitedly ran for the music books, “Your girls are how old?” the young girl asked. “Nearly two and three and a half,” Sean answered.
“Oh! We have Disney. And kids books. And so much.” The four of them were quite a sight bent over the cardboard box rummaging through as if it were gold dubloons and jewels within a treasure chest.
“This came from a music store in Burlington, we think it may be as old as being made in the 1880’s,” the mom told us breathlessly. “The man we bought it from had bought it for his kids.”
We arranged to call a piano mover to transport and then tune the piano. Writing a check and shaking hands we headed back to the car. It felt like Christmas morning. “Can you believe we are getting the girls a piano? This piano that has been played by so many other children? And that it travelled from Burlington. I know it’s not a perfect piece, but I love that it has this history, has been loved. Did you see how excited they were? Can you imagine the girls, the looks on their faces?” I looked at Sean and found him just shy of laughing.
“What?” I asked. He kept smiling at me. I realized I’d been talking a mile a minute and that I was grinning. “Wha-aat?” I asked again.
“You. It’s just amazing to see you this happy. I am really excited for all of us.”
I beamed back at him and said, “This just really feels like the right thing to be doing for our family. I just can’t get over how good this feels.”
“Me too, babe. Me too.”
Driving home there was a full moon in the afternoon sky. I smiled as I thought of us ropin’ that moon for our girls and the faint sounds of a piano tickled at my ears.
Thursday the girls sat rapt, as the movers traversed three and a half feet of snow and ice to deliver the piano. It was a sweet, sweet day.
Oh I cannot WAIT to see your little virtuosos tickling those ivories
That is so lovely! I wish you and your girls hours of happiness playing the piano.
They will probably always love to play… even years later, when they are teenagers, they'll fondle the keys of any piano that comes into their view.
The piano looks great ~ what a neat find! 🙂
My childhood years playing the piano have had a permanent and wonderful effect on my life. I hope your girls have tons of fun making music!
What a wonderful story. Our piano looks much the same, we play badly, to not at all, but I like having it. It represents a possibility.
I can hear the music already.
How lovely! Your little girls will be so thrilled, hope it brings years of joy and laughter.
congratulations piano owner! Piano keys are amazing things, they are going to have such fun playing and dancing around it. We have an old piano that lived in one of the homes on Warren Street (owned by Finch Pruyn), I fixed it up for John a few summers ago (he plays I dabble), it's a wonderful piece to own and I love that it has history behind it too.
That piano looks awesome!
My parents were generous enough to give us my childhood piano, I guess because I'm the only one in the family who actually took lessons for a decade. Makes sense. Drew just started lessons recently and it brings me no end of joy to listen to him experimenting with songs as I putter in the kitchen.
What a gift – the piano, the joy.
even more than the piano – what a truly lovely story.
They will love this story when they're grown up!
What an amazing post. Sounds like that piano and your family were meant to be together. 🙂
Can I get your e-mail address again? I had it when we worked on the whymommy project but can't find it anymore. Had a question for ya. Mine is motherofbun at yahoo dot com.
Beautiful! (she said, a bit enviously.) And beautifully written. I have been wanting to get a piano for so long, now. What a wonderful object to have in one's home – it must somehow feel just exactly right. You've inspired me.
you wanna know something really funny? we just bought a piano, from craigslist!! it was just brought home yesterday!! my daughter has been dying to learn the piano. so, my husband went on a mission to find her one…and, she got it for her birthday…from my mother in law!!!
What a lovely story! My mother-in-law has a baby grand that her father bought way back in the 40's. We're supposed to be getting it in the next year or so. There is a picture that sits on top of the piano of my mother-in-law sitting on her father's lap and playing the piano when she is about Goosey's age. I want to recreate that moment with my girls.
Again, beautiful post! I hope the piano continues to bring much happiness!