Monday, January 5, 2015

Goodbye, Old Friend

For some reason Dayna thinks 20 years with the same flooring is long enough.  And you know how it is when you make changes in flooring: things that have been sitting on that floor for 20 years come under scrutiny.  “Hmmm.  Do we still need that?  Can we get rid of this?  Do you think one of the kids will take that?”  Nothing is safe.  Our dog went into hiding.

Anyway, among the things that didn’t make the cut was our piano.  You know how some of the stuff you have is just stuff—no real sentimental attachment, maybe something you bought on a whim and regretted buying a hundred times since, maybe something you have no memory of buying at all.  “Now why did we buy that?” Dayna asks.  And all I can do is shrug my shoulders.  Some of our stuff is just stuff.  But some of our stuff is more than stuff—it’s personal; it’s got stories associated with it and strings attached to it: strings to the heart and to the memory.  Our piano is that kind of stuff.

When my dad died in 1987, he didn’t leave much behind.  But he did leave us enough money to buy a piano for our five-year-old daughter who wanted to learn to play.  My dad met his grandkids once.  He wasn’t good at relationships.  But using his money to buy this piano was a way for me to connect my dad to my daughter.  She was five—too young to grasp the connection.  That wasn’t important to her, but it was important to me.  It just so happened that we knew a piano teacher who knew somebody who was selling a nice piano at a good price, and we bought it cash money.

I’m glad we did.  Kristen had a gift for it.  We got her hooked up with a great teacher, Becky Morales, and she blossomed.  It was at that piano that she learned to play the Arkansas Fight Song, and dressed in a Razorback cheerleader outfit Dayna had stitched together, she performed that song at her first recital,.  It was at that piano that she would compose her first song, “Cat and Mouse”—the framed score of which hung on the wall of our home for years.  It was at that piano that she helped transition from Greenwood, Missouri, to Hot Springs, Arkansas, as she began 8th grade.  God put a new teacher in her life, Barbara Dodson, who challenged her in ways she’d not been challenged before.  It was around that piano that she and her friends would gather and sing, filling our house with beautiful music.  It was at that piano that she would sometimes play me to sleep as she practiced into the night, working on songs she was learning and songs she was writing.  It was at that piano that she would compose a worship song that was published and used in numerous churches across the country.  That song even made her some money for a few years.  It was at that piano that Kristen gained many of the tools she uses to lead worship these days in her church in Texas.  It was at that piano where I watched a cute little blonde-headed girl become a strawberry-blonde young woman who is beautiful inside and out.  It was at that piano where I watched how God-given talent combined with practice and work can produce beautiful things for the kingdom of God and the pleasure of those just listening in.  See what I mean?  Some of our stuff is more than just stuff.

But Kristen grew up, went to college, got married, and moved away.  So the piano sat in its familiar place, silent.  Kristen might play a little on her rare visits home.  And our grandkids like to bang on it when they are around.  But mostly it just sat there.  When she got a house, we asked her if she wanted the piano.  “I’d like it but I don’t have room, and I have an electronic keyboard already.”

Dayna and I talked about giving away the piano the last few years, but we just never pulled the trigger.  The flooring change raised the issue again.  The flooring starts going in this week.  So last week I said, “You know, I think I’ll post a picture on Facebook and see if anyone wants it.”  Boom!  Much to surprise, several people wanted it.  And one of them even had a plan to move it.  So last Tuesday night, some people we know from our church, people who play the piano and love the piano and have a son who plays piano came to pick it up.

Do we miss it?  Not really.  And here’s why: giving it away to people who have an appreciation for it gave me a chance to tell the piano’s story, to speak of the dad and daughter connection, to remember again the joy it has brought to our family, and to relish in the fact that this good old piano will make music once again and become enriched with more stories and more memories for a whole other family.  I know the piano will be happier.  It’s not a museum piece to be looked at; it’s an instrument to be played.  And it’s being played once again.

Some of our stuff is just stuff.  Some of it is so much more.  That piano is more than stuff; it’s an old friend.  And it gives us joy to know that piano is making new friends even now.