Thoughts from the Pianoforte

I’m going to channel the decade in which I was born and quote Karen Carpenter (and her voice like melted milk chocolate) singing, “I’m on the top of the world lookin’ down on creation…” Hum along if you know it.

Let me explain the reasons for my pure lightness of being.

Exhibit A: Last night we left Jack with Jessie, our respite sitter, and took the family to dinner. The last time this happened—all of us eating out together—was……..never. It’s never happened before.

Our children need practice in restaurant behavior and we need family memories and bonding time. Also, we need dinner. So we finally did it and everyone ate food and sat nicely (mostly), and the only meltdown was in the parking lot afterward, relating to car seat drama.

I mentally whipped a big black sharpie from the box of sharpies I keep locked up ever since Jack sharpied the laundry room cupboards in permanent black, and crossed off “eating out together as a family” from the big list of Things We Can’t Do Because of Disabilities. Thanks to respite care and perseverance with Charlie, it’s now possible.

Exhibit B: The Littlest Boy started preschool today. For the first time in thirteen years, I had two free daytime hours with no kids as far as the eye could see. I came home and sang the Hallelujah Chorus in my silent house. Then I practiced the piano.

I’ve been yearning to play the piano for months, nay years. But every time I sit down to play, someone screams to sit on my lap, or maniacally pounds on the low keys, or pulls the music from in front of me. And I refuse to ruin bedtime by playing when they’ve just fallen asleep.

So today I played. It sounded awful. I fumbled my way terribly through Mozart’s Fantasia in D Minor and wondered how I ever was once good enough to play this without errors and at tempo, in front of people.

Somewhere, the spirit of my childhood piano teacher, Jenny Bennett, whom we lovingly referred to as Benny Jennett, was shaking her head at my piano skills which have so long lain fallow.

I could hear her shouting, “Count!”


“Remember to play with expression!”

Expression was her favorite word.

Several years back when we got our piano, I wrote Mrs. Bennett a note telling her that I’d been thinking of her since all my piano music was covered in her handwriting. I thanked her for being a force for good through my childhood.

She taught me that playing the piano without expression is boring. She taught me to never turn down an opportunity to serve by playing the piano at church. She taught me to start new things slowly and deliberately, so that I could learn to do them well instead of fast. She taught me that life generally doesn’t turn out as you expect, but that’s okay because you can laugh at most of it.

I can still hear her laughing from her chair next to the baby grand in her music teaching room, and calling me “You Cute Kid!”

A quiet house and some old sheet music are good for remembrance.


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