In my lifetime, I have discovered that lots of things that happen in the real world are camouflaged with smoke and mirrors.
It is true we do see through a glass darkly.
However, one thing I know to be true.
Music softens the harshest day and pianos are God’s gift to humanity.
I grew up in an old house with a leaky roof and worn, cracked linoleum on the floor. It was a drafty house and I’m sure even the mice that crept in out of the cold to hide in the corners were never really warm.
But we had a coal and wood stove in the kitchen and the heat that emitted from its cavernous depths was comforting and delicious.
And when that big yellow school bus dropped me off down the street and I opened the front door and found my father to be home, I was totally happy living in that bachelor pad devoid of curtains and other little ‘woman touches.’
For one thing, we had the piano.
It was a stately piano, all dark wood and shiny. It was situated in the room we called the ‘front room.’ Living room was not a term I was familiar with.
Actually, as a kid, the best part of the piano for me was the fact that my mom’s picture was on top of it.
I was told at a very early age that my mom had gone to be with the angels, and after a while I came to understand that living with the angels was a permanent thing and she wasn’t going to ever be coming home to hug me and make supper.
So I learned to live with a mom who existed in a picture, smiling at me constantly and never scolding me about getting my homework done or brushing my teeth.
My mom used to play the piano, I was told. I was also told she played ‘Minuet In G’ beautifully, with a touch so soft and perfect it sounded like an angel was at the keyboard.
I set out to learn to play ‘Minuet In G’ so people would say I sounded like an angel, or at least like my mom — but no one ever did.
By the time I was 15 years old, I moved out of the house with the leaky roof and left behind the piano with my mom’s picture on it, and pretty much gave up learning to play ‘Minuet In G’ like my mom.
But as usually happens in this lifetime, fate and circumstances collided, and when I was 18 years old, I found myself in another home graced by a piano.
It belonged to my boyfriend’s mom.
Today, that same piano sits in my living room. And across its polished top march a gay profusion of pictures of kids and grandkids who belong to me and that boy of long ago.
And every day I still attempt to tinkle the ivories, struggling to make the music that lives inside of me come out.
And now and then I am lucky enough to have my home graced by wonderful musicians whose fingers on the ivories bring that old piano to life.
And sometimes when the lace curtains at my window flutter in the night breeze drifting in through the open window and the notes from the piano float outside, it happens.
I am surprised by joy.
And when I look up at the top of my piano, I swear I can see my mom’s picture sitting there.
And she is smiling.
Treena Mielke is editor of the Rimbey Review, a sister publication of the Sylvan Lake News.