They were not optional in our family, once a week, half an hour, that and at least 20 minutes daily, the youngest got the choice of times.
He quit after a year, his sister was three years in and went on another and I was eight years staring at the 88 keys, so many of which would never get used, useless as were the pedals I couldn’t reach at first and rarely needed later.
It was upright, as I was supposed to be, but only was in sight of my teacher, and I thought Bill Evans had it right, leaning over the keys insuring that they wouldn’t make an escape.
I stopped when my parents realized how much they had spent on what they would never enjoy and I would as soon forget.
There are no monsters in this lake I tell my granddaughter, answering her unasked question. There are bears in the woods around here and there used to be an owl which made an afternoon visit. There are deer, certainly and there could be a coyote or two. If you don’t believe me, ask the crows, everyone knows that they can never keep a secret.
First published in From the Finger Lakes: A Memoir Anthology, Cayuga Lake Books, 2021
Hands touch silently いただきます we humbly receive the meal a prayer of thanks to all who planted who harvested who sold who bought who prepared who enabled いただきます said each meal a silent reminder of thanks itadakimasu
As a child, I only wanted to stay up until midnight, actually a bit after that time, to see in the new year.
I didn’t need to be at my parents’ party, it was too loud and the adults behaved more like my kid brother and sister as the magic moment approached.
And it was supposed to be a magical moment, although no one could tell me why that was, or what made it special other than turning a page on the calendar.
I no longer try to stay awake until midnight on New Year’s Eve having long ago learned I don’t’ want to be around adults acting childish, and knowing January 1 is no different than December 31, save that I will miswrite the date on checks for at least a month.
My father wanted to take me to buy my first suit, said he knew a tailor who could fashion one perfect for my pending Bar Mitzvah, a nice wool blend, he said.
Mother about threw a fit. “Take him to the department store or even Goodwill, for God’s sake, he’s only going to wear it once.”
My father had learned that some battles are best left unfought, so he compromised and we went to the men’s shop and I wore that sport coat three times before outgrowing it, and donating it to Goodwill.
You ask me to define what family is and I tell you that I may be the last person you want answering that question, I an adoptee who felt like an orphan supplanted by siblings who knew her womb.
But I do have an answer, family is that insane person who will drive six hours to spend an hour with you, family is the joy and aching of your heart as they leave, a bit of themselves remaining deeply within your soul.