The last song. The day the piano was sold

The last song

As the world prepares to be vaccinated, my parents prepare to move…

…and get vaccinated, too!

My folks are moving into assisted living and will join all the other residents of the building next week to be vaccinated to ensure the safety of all.

I was over at their place yesterday—carefully.

They pretty much don’t go anywhere, nor do I. It’s been months and months since I have gone into their place, and the recent changes to regulations made it possible.

I admire my parents. They are healthy and fit for 82—and they are moving into assisted living on their terms. They are doing it while they can make all the choices, and drive all the decisions.

My parents--hardy folk--on a cold day outside at a wiener roast. On a blog about the day the piano was sold--the last song was played.
My parents came over for a meal–outdoors–recently. It started nice but the temperature plummeted and the wind picked up as supper progressed. They were real troopers!

My mom has some balance issues related to some back problems. They know their future is uncertain. By doing it now, my parents are handling this move the way they want to do it.

They have learned how to post furniture for sale on kijiji and are selling a bunch of furniture. My folks sold their second car. My ever socially minded parents know a family who expecting more family to arrive soon to Canada. This new family will have very little–but will receive all sorts of furniture and kitchen ware from my parents to get started. The china has been given to the granddaughters.

They are seriously downsizing—moving into a space about 20-30% of what they have now.

Yesterday, when I left, it was with some beautiful glassware and a great aunt’s china. My dad put the china in my car before I left. My mom packed that china with enough tissue to travel safely across the country on country roads with a horse drawn wagon. She snuck in a few extras into the box…including a “Devilled Eggs Plate”.

A devilled eggs plate on a blog about the day the piano was sold
A devilled eggs plate. Who knew?

What the heck? I didn’t even know that was a thing.

I suggested to them that they cut themselves some slack—if they couldn’t figure out what to get rid of, or it got too hard, they could rent a storage unit as an interim measure.

My dad nixed the idea of storage.

He is clear: downsizing is a one way street and there is no point to holding onto things that don’t fit.

Anything they don’t sell or give away or toss is something that me and my siblings will have to deal with when they are gone. He is practical and matter-of-fact about it all. They will take what will fit and once they are in, they will continue to discard items until it doesn’t feel cluttered.

My dad is a retired accountant–and thrifty as they come. In a departure from my dad’s thrifty past—he has declared that even though it is assisted living when they want to go out to eat, they will! This is despite the fact that rent includes the meals and there are no refunds. They will not be chained to the dining room with a meal that is paid for! They are in their 80’s and are going to throw economic caution and financial prudence to the wind! If they feel like A & W, they will have A & W! 🙂

I was there at 10. At 1, movers were coming to get the piano. My mom had sold her piano.

Y’know, there’s something about a piano—it’s not just another piece of furniture.

It’s where music happens–the piano is the soundtrack of a household.

The piano was where my brothers fought against practicing. It was where my mom went to practice before volunteering at a nursing home or church or some group that needed a pianist. She played it on the rare evening when she had some spare time–for fun. The piano meant a lot to my mom.

And yesterday, the piano left.

The piano was sold to a young family. A 9 year old boy now has a real piano to practice on. My mom loved knowing that a family who loves music was now going to be using it.

I asked my mom to play it for me one more time when I was there yesterday. She asked me what to play, and just started playing a song from her head. While she did, I grabbed her hymn book from nearby and let it fall open where the binding, weakened at certain places, was inclined to open.

My mom, as she generally does, apologized, as she played. She hadn’t practiced enough and her playing was not up to her standards. She was a little embarressed

Whatever, mom—it didn’t matter. Truly, it didn’t matter.

She, like the rest of us, is much more inclined to notice her own mistakes and judge herself for it.

I didn’t notice the mistakes.

I did notice how many years it had been since I heard her play the piano. My mom played when nothing was happening—and somehow, there was always something happening when we would go over. Life happens. A crowd of us would come over and visit and eat and wash dishes and visit some more. Somehow, she just didn’t play when I was around.

She didn’t know I was recording. But she did know that it was a profound way to say good bye to this piano. For just a moment, there was nothing happening. I asked her to play and she did.

And I realized that as my parents move into assisted living, they aren’t the only ones that are losing their home and way of life.

Yesterday, the loss hit me too.

My parents are aging, and so much of all that has surrounded them when I’ve come to visit is leaving their lives—and mine. I might not have heard the piano all that often…but I did pass by it every time I was there. It was the piano I grew up with.

And now the piano is gone.

The pandemic has predominated so many conversations these past months. Life has continued to happen even when COVID-19 is front and center. My son and daughter in law have welcomed a baby—I’m an Oma now. A friend’s husband left her. Another friend’s parent died. And now my parents are moving. To an apartment that will provide meals to them—and where a new piano will be in the common room.

So many of you have had life happen–people have died, gotten married, broken up, gotten together. Big events that impact you that others may not have noticed.

When we emerge to be together, we are going to discover that life has happened. We will catch up and find out what has been going on in each other’s lives.

So much will have happened. We will all have to catch up on the tragedies and triumphs of each other’s lives, won’t we?

So many important hello’s and goodbyes’s that haven’t been properly witnessed.

My mom thinks she might have more time to play when they move. My parents won’t have to make supper anymore—or clean up after. That should make this irresponsible senior ready to tinkle the ivories again—on a different piano.

She will play the same music though. That thought makes me happy.

1 Comment

  • Betty Rempel

    Your mom and dad will love CV. It is a great community. My dad has settled in since my mom passed last April and is now content there. Hoping they open the dining room there soon so they can actually meet their neighbours. Selling/giving away the piano is a loss but also a blessing. I gave mine away more than a year ago and bought an electric one. It takes much less space and I can still make music. Your parents are wonderful folks and I look forward to seeing them at CV when I visit.

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