Sunday, July 08, 2012

old music

My grandparents are moving.  They've lived in an apartment here in town for six years, and now they're moving in with my parents.  Last night, they visited their new place.  While we chatted in their new sitting room, my Grandma gave me a tea cup and saucer.  She and I spent a long time looking through old photo albums.  If the photos were from 1970 or before (especially the black and white ones from the 40's and 50's)....she told me about the people and places.  If they were from 1980 or after, I told her the names of the people she pointed to.  There was a bit of a gap between where her memory faded and mine.... hadn't been born yet.  But looking at old photos with her was a fun way to hear a lot of stories....and to remind her of the ones I remember too.  
Sophie's dress used to be mine.  

Even though she's one of the most flexible, easy-going, fun-seeking, playful adults I've ever known....I think that these days, she feels more comfortable there, in that part of her memory where the places and people and times don't move so quickly or fade away or change.  Conversations and large groups aren't quite as fun as they once were, I don't think.  This move is one more change, probably a little unsettling.  It's going to be a good thing.  But the transition must be pretty daunting.   I'm moving a few weeks, to a different house across town. And the 'in-between''s daunting.  And I'm 30.  

We found a picture of her and me (at age 2 or 3 in pink footie pajamas), having a tea party at my old retro-style play table.  (I can't believe we sold that table at a garage sale...that and my Strawberry Shortcake play kitchen).  We returned to the picture at least three times.  Every time, she'd point to the people in the picture, and I'd say "that's us!"  We'd both smile.  She pulled it out of the album a couple of times, checking for writing on the back.  No writing.

We took about 10 steps in a short tour of their new little apartment, sitting room, bathroom, bedroom, eating area with a round table, four cupboards, fridge and microwave.  We ended up sitting at her organ, each commenting on how nicely it fit in the new space.  She turned it on and started to play... something old and playful that I didn't recognize.  When she stopped, I pointed to a list on the music stand that looked like my own handwriting...a list of hymns we both knew (and probably played together years ago on violin and organ).  She leaned forward to read the names or I'd play the first two notes of just the melody, and she jumped in.  We played at least a dozen hymns that way.  Whatever key I started in...she'd catch it-- in at least 2 notes.  Once, during Just As I Am, she reached up to play on the upper keyboard with her right hand, and switched from Db to D.  I think I'd started in a key she wasn't used to.  She played it fine, the chords just easily falling under her fingers....until her memory kicked in...and she played it the way she always had.  For a brief few seconds, I'm pretty sure she was playing it in two different keys, her left hand in Db and her right hand in D.  Eventually, all three of our hands were in D.  We laughed a little bit when we finished that one.  Most of the time, I watched our hands, I tried to follow hers.  Hers move so gracefully, barely moving.  Sliding casually from note to note.  Mine seemed so...jumpy and hasty compared to hers.  But we did play alot of the same little riffs and harmonies and endings.  She commented too, that we ..'do the same stuff'.  We're both "weird" musicians.  I told her that I'd just been listening to her for a long time.  She laughed in consent.


Shaundra said...

It is difficult when someone has to leave the place they've come to know as home. I'm sure it was difficult for them to make the move to the apartment 6 years ago. But, at least they'll be taken care of and will be able to call this home eventually, too.

My grandma moved from her home in Iowa of many, many years to Nebraska. She had an extremely difficult time with this. So difficult, in fact, that she doesn't want to put her home up for sale. So, it sits empty and unattended; she just can't let it go.

I know how hard change can be for me so I cannot even imagine how hard it is to make changes because I have to let something go.

Your spending time with her is definitely a good remedy to her feeling better about her situation.

Rick said...

I enjoyed your story, and, as we are spending time with my grandchildren this week (in Traverse City), it reminds me of the importance of the time have together and the memories we can build. Thank you!