Saturday, May 12, 2007

The Safest Place

When you're a toddler and don't know what "tomorrow" means the safest place in your world is at the piano on your Daddy's knee, pounding away at your first concerto.  It must've sounded like awful baby-noise, but my Father welcomed it and was always encouraging.

I never took any lessons but around 10 I asked for books that would teach me to read this language of sound.  I'm glad of it; by the end of grammar school I was giving lessens to the neighborhood kids.  All my early life, happiness to me was sitting in the big chair next to the piano watching my Father carress the keys kind and gently like a lover, then swift, sharp and demanding.  That piano listened and obeyed, with sounds I couldn't believe were possible.  Always with his Kent cigarette smoldering in the ashtray, I'd listen and watch as the grey smoke would wind and curl its way upward, around and back in on itself, around again and up, up into some unknown place in the ceiling.  It was pure magic.  Mystical.  It was music, and he gave it to me.   

That piano was the first piece of furniture my parents bought.  It had a mirror at the keys so you could see yourself playing.  In the 50's they'd give suburban parties and my sister and brothers would gather behind the stairwell, watching and listening to the adults clink the ice in their tall vodka glasses, laughing at the ladies funny hair-dos and dresses, giggling while a couple stole a smooch in the kitchen, and the air was filled with my Mother's perfume.  Soon one of us would have to be the "Black Mouse" and run downstairs into the kitchen, grab a handful of petit fors and rush back with the goodies.  More giggles running up to our beds as we'd  hear Dad laugh out, "You kids get to sleep!"  Heaven.  But my attention was drawn to only one thing:  my Father at the piano, entertaining, enchanting, laughing, telling jokes, life of the party, and playing any song you could name.  He'd sing and smile and looked so happy and healthy.  My Mother was the prima donna and all the ladies would gather to hear about her latest modeling escapade.  My eyes and ears were fixed on that piano, and the smoke curling up to the unknown place in the ceiling.

Next day I'd rush downstairs, tripping over my own feet to get to the piano and try out the songs I'd heard him play.  With a sharp jump in my heart I'd happily note I could duplicate anything.  By the time I learned to read and write this magical language I was writing my own little sonatas, complete with lyrics in the form of my poetry.  No matter where I went in my life, coming home meant playing the piano with a glass of white wine as my cigarette burned in the ashtray. 

Music took me through the best and the worst of my life.  It was there as my one saving grace, always dependable, always soothing, and more than anything, always mine.  From the giddiness of first love to the darkest of depressions, only music could spark my life.  I could no more live without it than air.

My Father died too early at 67, I stopped smoking, my Mother had a full life and died at 80, we sold the deserted house, and everything went away, just as we had years earlier.

Now we've gathered again somehow, in grief for our deceased parents, but knowing perhaps we all need each other and those memories, and as long as we have them in our hearts they'll never die, never leave.  My Father knows I miss him, how I wish I'd been a better daughter.  Yet I have to think that he knows how deeply I treasure that one precious incredible gift he gave me, and perhaps he always knew it would be forever a part of my life.  For I cannot think of or play music, without thinking of him.     

 

15 comments:

queenb8261 said...

What a beautiful tribute to your father. You're a lucky girl.
I hopeyou still play.
Hugs Barb

getmeslippers said...

That is a wonderful testimony to your Daddy.  How hard is that part of life when your beloved parents are gone.

brainwhispers said...

Wonderful writing.
I wish i could play the piano.
x

luddie343 said...

Cathy 2 Brain - who told you u couldn't?

brainwhispers said...

Brain 2 Cathy - The voices in my head :O)

madcobug said...

A great entry and a great picture to remember it all by. This would have been a good Father's Day entry. Helen

pharmolo said...

Great entry, Cathy. Nothing as relaxing as a bout at the old ivories :-)

lanurseprn said...

You are so lucky to be able to play the piano. That is one of my goals this year, to start lessons. What a wonderful entry! I could picture it in my mind as I read what you were writing.  
Just wonderful!   Do you still play a lot?
Pam

treesrgreen78 said...

You are so very gifted, so much natural talent and so knowledgeable amount so very many things.  It is always a delight to read your entries.  It is so precious the relationship you had with your dad.  So many beautiful memories to cherish.  I am sure he is watching over you.

gehi6 said...

How I enjoyed this memory of your father and his gift of music to you.  You paint a vivid picture.  I can see it like a movie.  Gerry http://journals.aol.com/gehi6/daughters-of-the-shadow-men/  

preciousone25 said...

What a beautiful entry!!  I'm so glad that you have such wonderful memories of your childhood, your parents, and MUSIC!!!  Happy Mother's Day to you!

Joann

rockoned7 said...

Wonderful sentiments and a loving lament of those passing times when happiness and security was never questioned but always relied upon in the shape of your protector.

Music once heard enters our souls and remains with us in memories with its hypnotic ambience which are all things to all people.

Have yourself a very happy and memorial Mother’s Day Cathy

gaboatman said...

Thanks for sharing these memories.  Music can be such a wonderful companion.  Your father's gift to you will always be cherished, I'm sure.  Nice entry, I enjoyed it.
Sam

sassydee50 said...

Cathy~Beautiful entry! I can just see you and your Dad sitting there and you feeling the majic of it all. How talented you are that you could duplicate what you heard him playing. How nice to hear how much he truly enjoyed playing. I still think about my upright chery wood carved piano that my grandfather bought for me and my granmother got rid of when I moved away. Geez, I miss that instrument like one would miss a lost friend. I had a very difficult time memorizing any piece; strictly a note reader here and one without a piano:::::::sigh::::::::::::What a great intrument! Love ya~Deb (and Dutch sends love too)

http://jouranls.aol.com/sassydee50/sassys-private-words

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