I shared this story with some friends last year, just before Mother’s Day:
I was in third grade. I awoke one morning in our New York one-bedroom to the sound of piano keys going. Mom’s surprise. She had saved I don’t know how long waitressing, for her dream. She’d never gotten to learn herself and had chased the vision of her daughter’s playing. Korean Mom of course had to get the best. I don’t know how in the world she managed to tuck away enough for a new Yamaha, a beautiful rich brown. Thankfully I picked it up easily, performed solos in elementary and junior high, went on to teach and compose. Mom said the apartment came alive whenever I’d play on visits from Pennsylvania during college and the working years. But when I relocated to California 11 yrs ago, the piano sat with no more songs; to Mom and Dad, the keyboard was a tangible part of their girl on the other side of the country, and to me always the testament of varicose veins a mother had earned waiting tables and walking in 11 at night.
With no other recourse, my parents sold the piano and were so thankful to be able to give me something when I got married. It was a bittersweet parting, for them and for me, but the practicality of it quieted my regrets. Though I was able to play on campus and at church during college, it’s been more than 20 years since I had a piano of my own. It so happens I married another dreamer. It hurt Peter for my parents to have had to sell the sacred memento of Mom’s love for me and, in his words, for my “talent to have gone unwatered” all these years. The piano that my husband has been saving for, prospecting, rolled in through the door yesterday morning. Shiny black, she slipped right into the console recess as if the space in the wall had been cut for her. The Yamaha looked made for our home. Tennyson was so excited watching Mom on the keyboard and Peter said I played as he’d waited for in his head.