When the Piano Got Tuned


Where do you put your photos? On the wall? Which wall? The front foyer so that all who visit see your pride and joy family right away? Or near the garage entrance where shoes get littered and bags get plopped but the traffic is always heavy and so the photos rewarded with much attention? Or does the busyness of that entrance inhibit the noticing? Too utilitarian an area for the reflection that photos should invite?

So, then, bedrooms? Living rooms? Kitchens? Where does family best get situated in the home? And are walls better than mantles? Are they equally good? Walls dignify. Mantles and counters invite. Walls require attentive measuring and nailing. Counters are more art than science. One eyeballs where the frame best finds repose.

What about photos on the piano? No, not on top. Right where the Christmas carol songbook sits for six months of the year. Where Richard Marx’s “Right There Waiting for You” droops into itself from years of inattention. Where notes and melodies sit un-played with the very best of intentions, and it’s probably for the best because the piano has been out-of-tune for years.

What if photos sat there instead? Beautiful family photos – some with frames, some without. Even a family photo album right there in the mix. Would that be odd? Silly?

Unless there came a time when time felt short and piano books all-the-more unlikely to be played.
Unless there came a time when you realized the best pieces you ever heard or want to remember are your family.
Unless there came a time when you don’t own a front foyer. The front door opens to a small living room with a piano right there. So then the very first thing you or anyone sees are a string of notes that make for the singular melody that holds your heart.

Yes, mom went with the mishmash of framed and unframed photos and albums situated right on the closed piano. She lets the music play itself by way of color and smile, personality and memory. She has not called the tuner, probably won’t. Because the tuner already arrived in the form of a tumor.
Why is it that so often only the truly awful finally draws the off-keyed, disparate-rhythmed families together? Why is it then, finally, that the old piano plays with beautiful precision? And why must this sublime melody be so very short?

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