My mother has always loved piano music and hungered to play. When she was in her early sixties, she retired from her job as a computer programmer so that she could devote herself more fully to the piano. As she had done with her dog obsession, she took her piano education to an extreme. She bought not one, not two, but three pianos.
One was the beautiful Steinway B, a small grand piano she purchased with a modest inheritance left by a friend of her parents’. She photocopied all of her music in a larger size so she could see it better and mounted it on manila folders. She practiced for several hours every day. When she wasn’t practicing the piano she was talking about the piano.
I love pianos, too, and wrote an entire book about the life of one piano, a Steinway owned by the renowned pianist Glenn Gould. And I shared my mother’s love for her piano. During phone conversations, I listened raptly as she told me about the instrument’s cross-country adventures.
Before bringing the Steinway north, my mother had mentioned that she was considering selling it. I was surprised, but instead of reminding her that, last I knew, she was setting it aside for me, I said nothing, unable to utter the simple words, “But, Mom, don’t you remember your promise?” If I did, it would be a way of asking for something, and asking my mother for something was always dangerous because of the risk of disappointment.