By Theresa Blume
When I was a child, we did not talk about recycling. Of course we did not have as many plastic bottles or disposable diapers either. Out in the country we burned our regular garbage, gave our chickens and dogs leftover food, and we hauled bigger things to the local dump.
One day my oldest brother came back from the dump excited about a surprise he had hauled home. We all raced out of the house to see an old piano standing in the bed of his 1951 green Chevrolet pickup.
We kids piled in, elbowing each other out of the way. When I got up to it, I immediately started playing a simple tune to the surprise of my parents. My dad liked to say, “Theresa can play anything,” because I had a natural ear for music, which he encouraged by passing his old harmonicas on to me.
The whole family understood that the piano was mine, but the trouble that my brother must have gone through to put that thing on his truck by himself was quite a gift, especially considering the usual animosity between us. I am not sure he ever knew how much that piano meant to me as the years went on.
When it was decided to put the piano in the new machine shed that my dad built for large farm equipment and vehicles, I did not care. We probably did not have enough room in the house. Plus, it being an old piano from the dump, my parents did not really expect anyone to play it much, but that piano became my obsession.
I played it every day for hours, losing track of time and events. A couple of the lowest range keys did not work, so I worked around them, even inventing songs. Even on cold winter days I would be in that unheated shed plucking tunes while wearing gloves and a winter coat.
That piano was a great source of comfort to me. The day we sold my horse I cried and banged on the keys so I would not hear him being loaded into the trailer. I discovered then that music could help when I was sad, which came in handy as a young adult facing heartbreak and disappointment.
When our family moved, we did not take the piano with us, but that year I received a guitar for Christmas, thus finding a way to continue my music. I have not thought much about it until our latest move brought us to a place which has a piano in it, and my granddaughter is drawn to it like a magnet. When put on the bench, she gently uses her fingers like she knows just what she is doing. Obviously, the love of music runs strongly in our family.
When I think of that old discarded piano, I realize that one person’s garbage really was another’s treasure. It did not have to be new for the child who had none, and that is still true today.