My mother, the piano

22Oct08

My mother played the piano.  I used to listen to her as I lied in bed at night. Sometimes I’d sneak to the door in my bedroom and lay there with my head on the carpet. I could better hear her beautiful music that way.  I remember on a few occasions her stopping the music suddenly. She would slam her hands down upon the keys and let out a long, painful wail.

She left my father and me when I was five.  It sounds cliché, but she literally went out for groceries and never came back.  The only thing she left behind was her piano.

When I couldn’t sleep at night, I’d often go into the living room and lay my head upon the soundboard frame. I didn’t know how to play and I didn’t dare try with my father in the house. Just resting my head on my mother’s piano made me feel closer to her.

When my dad lost his job we had to sell a lot of our things.  Dad still carried a torch for mom, despite her selfish disappearance from our lives.  He continued to hold out hope that she would one day return.  It hurt us in a place that would never heal when the movers took that piano away.  Only then did we truly realize our abandonment.

A few decades later I read in a Czech newspaper of a famous pianist who had died in Prague, where I happened to be at the time.  She was dearly loved by her fans and highly acclaimed in her profession, the paper said.  She would be sorely missed.

That night I couldn’t sleep in my hotel room even after I took my sleeping pills. I wandered down to the lobby for a drink and noticed a piano.  I sat down, rested my head upon the soundboard frame, and slept.



3 Responses to “My mother, the piano”

  1. Knox,

    You write a lot of things that choke me up, and I’m pretty sure I’ve read everything on this site at least once, but this is the first one you’ve written that has actually brought tears to my eyes.

    The image of you in Prague is just so coldly beautiful. Thank you.

    -k

  2. 2 August Symphony

    I recently had a break up with a friend, who is very dear to me. Reading your stories somewhat lessen the sting of being heart-broken. Thank you.

  3. 3 August Symphony

    I recently had a break up with a friend, who is very dear to me. Reading your stories somewhat lessen the sting. Thank you.


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