I haven't been playing so much the last couple of years. I haven't been playing at all really. For all kinds of reasons. The usual busyness works. But I have so many memories of all kinds associated with those keys. I guess they almost seemed to me to be haunted. And I didn't want to release the ghosts.
However. Once the snow flew last weekend, the Christmas voices called me and I found myself on the bench one day that I was alone in the quiet house. Almost immediately the memories began floating around my head... but one came to stay and surprise me and make me smile!
"What Child Is This." The tune is Greensleeves and my Aunt Cindy taught it to me. Behind my Grandpa Garrety's big easy chair. Maybe he was in it, but usually he popped the leg rest down and jumped up when we wanted to bang around on the big old upright in the corner - the bench right over the wrought iron heat vent in the floor. I think it was fall, but I don't really remember. The keys were real ivory and ebony some chipped, some cracked, the ebony worn soft and smooth with use. My young aunt's hands were not yet so twisted and swollen with the arthritis that would later cause so much pain. She was all cool and sweet and sassy from the 60s. She was colorful with boots and beads and boyfriends. I hadn't yet walked the aisle in pink crushed velvet & lace to stand on her side when she married my favorite.
She played the sweet gentle tune line by line and taught me the notes of a haunting melody that would hide in my heart for the next 40 years and surprise me over and over when I found it hidden in notes and words written in the pages of my lessons. I could feel her joy and pride as I caught the notes and rhythm and feel of it. She loved me, but I'm pretty sure my aunt went out soon after - leaving the rest of the family to enjoy my never-ending one song recital!
With just a few notes of that sweet enduring melody from favorite carol I was there again. I could almost feel the ivories under my fingers and smell the beef and noodles simmering in the kitchen. Family talking and laughing all around. My sister standing on the heating vent waiting for the furnace to turn on and bugging me to stop playing so we could sneak up the steep stairs and play in the front bedroom where my mom and aunt used to sleep while the trains rumbled by headed north.