Looking forward…and back

On February 2, 2018 my husband and I will be moving back to Iowa, to the town where I grew up. For the most part I am thrilled to be returning! I’ll be nearer to my daughters and my first granddaughter, who will arrive just days before we do. Dad will be only a 5 minute drive or a 20 minute walk away, all through beautiful rolling Iowa hills. One of my brothers and his delightful wife live only a 10 minute drive away and his children are also in the area. Another brother is in Detroit, so a bit farther, but still do-able in a day. My Australian brother and his wife often come for weeks in the summer and they’ll be staying with us. Being near to family is one of the things I’m looking forward to the very most. I love my family – most of us do – but I also LIKE my family.  We enjoy one another’s company.

This morning I got an email from my youngest brother. He’s been amazing at helping my father get the house cleared out of the final things and even braved the Black Friday sales with my father to purchase a washing machine and dryer for us yesterday! True brotherly love.

The email had in it a link to photographs of the few things in the family home that no one wanted or needed. (This is where we’re lucky enough to be living when we return.) Among the things in the photographs is the piano that my paternal grandmother bought a long time ago. I’m not sure how long, but it’s been in the house as long as the house has been standing and it was built in 1954 so the piano is at least that old. Like all old pianos, even though it’s been well cared for and regularly tuned and maintained, you can hear it’s age. A few years ago I played it again when I was back and I was shocked at the change in the tone. Inevitable, but still disappointing.

When we were home this summer we stayed in the house and I played the piano again. I couldn’t play for very long – I disintegrated into tears. The sound of that piano, in that room, brought back a world of memories of my Mom and me playing duets together. We would do very nicely for a while and then one of us would make a mistake. At that point we would dissolve into helpless laughter, never to recover fully for that session. I loved those time together.

The piano will never sound “good” again. It’s difficult to control and makes me sound a worse player than I am. We have room – the house is more than twice the size of our loft in Berlin.

So now I’m faced with a dilemma. I have a beautiful Clavinova, built by Yamaha, that I love. The sound is stunning and it never needs tuning. It has both harpsichord and organ voices, so I can play Scarlatti and Bach on an “instrument” they would have used. Do I need a second piano? Clearly not. However, letting go of this instrument, with all the memories that the sound evokes is painful. It isn’t a piece of furniture; I can see it every day and feel only admiration for the beauty of the workmanship and the glow of the wood. But when I sit down to play…well, that’s something completely different.

Do I want to keep these memories only in my head and heart, or in the sound of that piano? I don’t know. I just know I only have a few days to decide.

Any and all advice and thoughts welcomed.





5 thoughts on “Looking forward…and back

  • Is it possible to donate it to a local church or school where you can always sit down to play if you like and pay it a visit? Surely there is some place that would love a piano in need of some TLC that could be put to good use.

  • Kathy,
    We have been there and had to do this. It is hard to say goodbye to old friends and the parting is a sweet sorrow. But once it is done, life moves on in the present tense. Memories are forever.
    You will be so happy to be back with your family again and your Dad will love having the family home stay in the family. Enjoy and bring your own wonderful piano with you.

  • Hi Kathy!

    Lovely to read your update. 🙂

    You know I’m rather a minimalist and so what I’m going to say may surprise you, but I suggest you keep the piano for the time being. The fact that it evokes so much emotion and a big enough dilemma to ask for advice suggests to me that you’re not ready to let this important piece go and may very well regret it if you did.

    You say you have room and the decision to keep it doesn’t have to be eternally binding, so I would suggest hold on to it until you’re really ready to let go.

    🙂 ♡

    • Hi Elizabeth,

      Thank you for taking time to share your thoughts. It’s always good to hear from you! I’m thinking now that I will let it go and enjoy the memory of the sound and the experience. This decision is not only for me but for my father who will visit us weekly – if not more often! – and I am beginning to think that the less the house looks like the home he and Mom shared the easier it will be for him.

      Liebe Grüße,

Leave a Reply to Ann Bernard Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *