|Love seeing mom with both her instruments!|
Coming home from elementary school, the sounds of her accordion would reach me at the end of the driveway. I knew when I got inside, I would find mom sitting on the edge of the kitchen table, foot propped on one of the chairs, her dust rag forgotten on the kitchen counter. The full accordion would be strapped to her thin frame and her body would sway with the movement of her arms as she pulled the bellows back and forth, moving air through the chambers to produce this beautiful sound as her fingertips worked the keys and buttons, sight unseen by feel and memory. I’ll never understand how she looked so graceful while she played.
She took accordion lessons as a child, learning the intricate classics before anything else. She never learned to read music very well and instead learned and played every piece by ear; she was flawless, never missing a note or chord. No matter the song, once she heard it, she could play it on the accordion. She would blend one song into the next, humming along with each one, a smile, always, on her face. Music was the center of her and she could never resist that call to stop what she was doing to play a little.
Looking back, I feel fortunate that it never became common place to listen to her. It always felt like a privilege. Sometimes I wouldn’t go inside, but sit outside on the steps to listen. She never minded you coming upon her playing, but there was an intimate quality to when you listened and knew she was just playing for herself. A shared moment of her self fulfillment.
|Those hands played magic!|
She took a few lessons, but again reverted to playing by ear and it was magical. She didn’t play the classics, instead playing the pieces that her mom had played and popular music from her time. Mostly music from the 40 and 50’s – romantic pieces.
By far my favorite time to listen was in the evening, after I’d gone upstairs to bed. I’d lie in bed and listen to her adjust the volume and then the music would start. I’d picture her, fingers softly flowing over the upper and lower rows of black and white keys as her upper body swayed back and forth on the bench. Her left foot would glide across the pedals at the floor, her right foot controlling the volume pedal. To this day I marvel that her arms legs all worked in unison, each one having its own role to play in the music, conducted by her to perfection. What I wouldn’t give some days to drift into sleep listening to her play Edelweiss or Stardust.
|She loved sharing her music...|
She passed away in 2009 and not often, but enough, I put the tape in and relive the afternoon with her as I putter around the house. And still, after three years of her being gone, when I hear her call out myname, I head back into the room to see what she has to say.