The following article below is an opinion piece penned by the author and represents the views of only the author and not necessarily those of AllOnGeorgia.
When asked to account for the 900-pound hunk of beautifully crafted wood and metal piano in our house that does not work, my wife and I tend to stutter a lame excuse that no one, so far, has believed. I am hoping for a miracle. It is even harder to explain why we plan to never have it re-stringed or attempt to play it even if it were re-stringed. It is plainly an illusion that one day we will sit around the parlor like well-mannered aristocrats, dressed in high lace collars, and clap politely as a family member finishes a rousing rendition of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony.
And yet, this massive thing will stay here as long as my wife remains the eldest daughter and I remain the husband of the eldest daughter. There is a reasonable degree of permanence on both accounts. All I can say is that we have joined the fellowship of older sister/brothers who have become the family repository of heirloom stuff. More accurately, we are the curators of the family memories.
For several years now, a forlorn-looking organ reminiscent of the 1960s and a mammoth piano has followed us from house to house. The organ, with its multicolored function keys resembling flattened out cookie wafers, is nothing more than a space-occupying dust ball collector. The piano, an enormous bookshelf, and family photo holder.
A practical person might ask why we keep them.
Well, let me say that it is not because I enjoy lifting them. The last time we moved the piano, my testicles complained bitterly of shooting pain and I considered hiring the neighborhood drunk to surgically install an abdominal mesh. Luckily, it is stained an agreeable neutral color of brown and looks good with the similarly colored family dictionary that has, shamefully, never been opened. The movers, whom I admire more than astronauts, had the regrettable task of moving the behemoth up a flight of stairs at our last home. They were polite when done but were clearly injured, and I considered taking out a second mortgage as a tip. Poor bastards.
As if the piano’s oppressive presence were not enough, it has an even sadder story to go along. This particular piano was, indeed, played by my wife’s grandmother and was no doubt loved. However, it was purchased in favor of the older and considerably rarer Player Piano. As it turns out, the simple novelty of the Player Piano is priceless—not what anyone will pay for one. You can comfortably purchase one for around a thousand dollars in marginal working order. I can only imagine Grandma had ESPN and knew the heavier of the two would be the better choice for generations to come. Thanks, Grandma. It is sort of attractive in the way an art collector might appreciate a 6000-pound bronze sculpture of a gorilla. Maybe I am being too harsh. A 6000-pound sloth. One that defines the term Dead Weight.
The only quality of this Lester brand piano, among others, that adds levity to it, are the memories adorning it. They lay in the yellow stained keys and in the worn foot pedal and in the chipped edges of the bench. A child was once delighted by the sounds it made. Company was entertained by its renderings of Yellow Bird. It likely witnessed a birth or sat mournfully aside as someone was laid to rest.
It now holds the images of our children and will one day hold the images of our grandchildren. It carries the well-worn books we read to our children at bedtime and holds vigil over the names of family we have lost, written on the cover of the family bible. And in that way, it is special—the melting together of memories of generations. Alas, the piano stays. For to get rid of it would mean denying our past, and more importantly, our future. Maybe one day we will restring the piano and decide that, given the work to move it, a simple little tune might not be so bad.
Photo Credit: https://www.yelp.com/biz/allegro-piano-movers-boston
Chad Bentley is a lifelong native of Paulding County, Ga and currently lives in Dallas with his wife, three children, dog, and spoiled cat. His interests include woodturning, beekeeping, writing, and general malaise. When he isn’t looking for a comfortable place to sit, he can be found behind the lathe making beautiful objects to make his wife and children smile.