Tag Archives: Remembering


My Grampa comes to visit, and he tunes our piano.  I stand to the side, watching, fascinated.  He unwinds the thick red felt ribbon and carefully tucks it between the revealed strings, explaining that it will stop those strings from vibrating.  I hang on his every word, his every action, even though he tunes our piano every time he visits.  He strikes the tuning fork against his leg and listens to it ring, then plunks his gnarled finger (“I’m losing my fight against my enemy, Arthur,” he’ll say) down upon a key.

From his pouch of tools he deftly plucks just the right instrument and reaches into the depths of the piano, twisting and turning something I cannot see, and the tone of the note twists and turns with the movement of his hand.  He plunks again, twists again, plunks and strikes and twists until he is satisfied, then moves on to another key.

He explains to me about wavelengths and vibrations and hammers and dampers and life.  He strikes and plunks and twists and moves that thick red felt ribbon to a new position.  It is better than any television show I might watch.  Finally, he rolls his felt ribbon into a bright red coil and tucks it away with his tools, then closes up the piano, hiding the mystery of the music within.  He adjusts the bench, and then sits.

The first song is always, “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen”.  I could sit there forever and let the music of his heart swirl around me.  The big band and jazz tunes flow from the piano, find their way to my toes, my fingers, weave themselves into my heart. Too soon, he is done.

Later, we will go to the church together and he will tune the piano there.

Years later, I will play from the books my Gramma has sent me, the books my Grampa played from, the music of his heart, and I will remember.



One of the best things about moving is discovering things at the other end of the journey.  We tend to wind up with all of our worldly belongings in storage about every other move, and so there’s often quite a large gap between packing and discovery.  Hence, I packed my house last December, but I’ve just finished unpacking the very last of the boxes.  Unless Smiddy finds another one out in the garage…

I hold the green glass measuring cup in my hands, loving the smoothness of the glass, and I remember wandering with Smiddy through some market in Missouri on our honeymoon.  We hang pencil drawing of Chaos and Mayhem in the hallway, and I remember not only how my sister drew them, but the moments they depict.  

So many things, and each one carries its own memory.  That clock?  I bought that in Target, one of the first purchases for the addition we built onto the house in Redington.  This wall hanging?  My mother bought it for me for my birthday when they lived in Cheyenne.  Those Steve Hanks prints–Smiddy purchased them right after we were married, and he built the frame for one.

We hang the mirror in the entry way and laugh about the way we painted over a beautiful cherry finish on a brand-new mirror because we wanted it to match our walls.  The blue pitcher that holds wooden spoons near the stove has been with me since Fort Collins.  That little copper music machine came from Smiddy’s grandpa.

Some of the memories carried by these decorations aren’t pleasant.  That green-glass washboard leaning against the wall is the replacement for one that got broken in a fit of temper.  This sweater–I wore it on one of the hardest days of my life.  The red djembe is a reminder of a part of my life that I once thought I’d lost, that I finally gave over to God, and was given back.

But somehow, these things are all the more precious for the hardships they remind me of.  Perhaps we learned something when the washboard broke.  Perhaps I grew stronger when wearing that sweater.  Rather than hide them, give them away, I continue to live with them.  The memories that come along with them have shaped me, but they will not define me.  And I keep them with me as a reminder.

Today, the copper music machine sits on our piano, becoming a part of my children’s musical memories.  This vase on the end table is new, but already it has a story–how I saw it in a store before we knew we would be moving, then Smiddy drove me back to the store months later in the hopes that they still had the vase, hoping that the color scheme would work in a house we’d not yet seen.  This green glass bowl is new, but it holds the moss-and-rock idea I’ve been wanting to try for years.

So I carry these things with me, reminders of memories good and bad, and I add to them as I go along.  Each one has a story, each one has marked my life in one way or another, and I am glad to have them with me.