Thursday, April 17, 2008

Another Kind of Legacy

My dad's mom played the piano. She was amazing. She played for her church, she played for community groups, she played ragtime like it was going out of style. She could knock out "The Entertainer" like nobody's business. My dad knew one song on the piano, but he played a pretty mean banjo on occasion. He also had a tenor sax that he had lovingly restored a couple years before he passed away, which is currently being used at my mom's church, and belongs to me whenever I decide I need it.

My dad also passed along to me his mom's piano. My brother and I both had to take lessons when we were kids. I don't remember how many times Mrs. Payton made me cry during a lesson, but I do remember the kid-sized lawn chair she would bring out for me to sit in during my brother's recitals. After Mrs. Payton there was Bounce, a strangely-named, fun, yet short-lived piano teacher. Then Mrs. Copenhaver, then one more kinda creepy lady during my freshman year of high school who wasn't my teacher for very long. I continued to play throughout high school, but due to busy schedules, I stopped taking formal lessons.

In the summer of 2001, the piano officially became mine. I moved into an apartment big enough to keep it, and I've had it with me ever since. It's my official inheritance from my dad. He told me so. I'll admit, it's a bit of a bane... movers want three arms and a leg to move it from place to place, and don't EVEN ask them to take it upstairs. It has to be tuned; it takes up a lot of room. My cats think it's just one more place to sleep, and at times it can be a collector of everyday flotsam and jetsum when the other flat surfaces in here are all filled up.

I don't play it very often, and when I do, there are about a dozen songs that I pull out and play over and over again. "Canon in D", Bach's "Prelude No. 1", "Hallelujah", "Piano Man", "American Folk Hymn (There is a Balm in Gilead)", "Spinning Song", and so on. I've tried to learn a new song here and there, but I just don't practice often enough to make a new song sound good. But I do enjoy playing. It reminds me of sitting in Dad's office in the living room of our house while he worked and I practiced.

My plan was to make and upload a little video for you so you can hear the one song my dad played on the piano almost every time he walked by it. However, I can't find the sheet music for it. Mom can probably help me locate it, so as soon as I can find it, I'll share it with you.

My dad is remembered for a lot of different things... his love of sports, his drafting skills, his strange company name ("13"), the perpetual purple camouflage bucket hats sporting any number of decorative pins. But music is a part of his legacy, too, and I have a great big reminder right in the middle of my living room. Thanks, Dad. I miss you.


Blogger won't let me upload pictures, so I'll put those in later. In the meantime, you can go here to read my brother's post for the day, or here for last year's memories.

Edited to add: YAY! Pictures will finally post. Here are a couple I really like.


Anonymous said...

My dad's song is "Fur Elise." He does pretty well, he's self taught.

We had an upright player piano that I hope to have some day.

Your dad was a real treasure. It was really nice to read your memories. Brilliant post. I'm in tears!!

Screaming Wendy said...

So lovely. I love you, BFF.

kaykatrn said...

Thanks for sharing. You made me think of my Dad, who's been gone for 15 years, and I miss him every day. He played Waltzing Matilda all the time, and whistled it when he wasn't at the keyboard. And he never would explain why!

Josef said...

Email me with the sheet music you're looking for. I've quite a collection and would be willing to loan it to you.

Leone said...

Hugs for Brooke *squeeeeeze* You share wonderful memories of your father Brooke, I'm glad you have so many. Our piano at home is also a cat lounge but one time at about 3am my Moms kitty decided to jump on it while I was sleeping in the same room. Ah, cats. Another hug for Brooke. *squeeeeeeeze*

Annabelle said...

It's so wonderful how objects can carry such warm memories. I have my father's cameras (we weren't a musically inclined family). Its so sweet that you share these with us :)

MollyBeees said...

Aww! What a lovely tribute to your Dad. It never gets easier withouth them does it?

Kimmie said...

It sounds like your Dad's mother would have been friends with my Dad's mother - like your grandma, mine could also play a mean ragtime song and she entertained the others in her nursing home with her tunes right up to the day she died. But unlike your dad, mine never took up the piano or any other musical instruments. I never met your dad in person but I feel like I know him because of your wonderful descriptions and tributes.