A Good Piano

I don’t know if I can really do this justice, but I’ll try. Anyway, I had a phone conversation with my mother, Frances, today. After I hung up, I realized it had been over four years since she moved. The conversation went something like this:

Me: How are you?

Frances: Oh, I’m awful. [Insert ten minutes of health complaints here.] And I’m really upset some people stole almost all my musical instruments when I moved. Then, you know what else the doctor said?-

Me: Wait- who stole your musical instruments? What about your musical instruments?

Frances: Oh, you know. I don’t know why, but I had my old piano mover move for me, and he hired all of these guys he didn’t even know! John Chang, he’s an oriental guy, John Chang. I can’t believe he would do that, after thirty or forty years of piano moving. And I didn’t even know it when I hired him, but he was like disabled or something- going around town with handicapped stickers on his van for a knee problem or Alzheimer's or something like that. He used to say, “Oh, stairs. Stairs are nothing to me.” And he couldn’t even get it up the stairs! Stairs used to be nothing to him! After thirty or forty years of experience. And these guys he hired, they didn’t even speak English or something, they were Latino and he couldn’t even talk with them! Like he would say, “Left” and they would drive right. It was ridiculous. You’d think he would know some people, after thirty or forty years in the business. He used to be really good, you know. So they just pushed this piano up the two stairs and they were stuck. It was like three steps and they were stuck. And these people upstairs, these ladies on the third floor were all saying they had to go to the doctor or something, I guess these people on the third floor were sick or something and they didn’t want the piano there on the stairs and the one lady, I guess she was agile, she climbed over the piano. You know, I had to follow the mailman to find him [John Chang]. I had his address, but his phone was disconnected. I guess his parents disconnected the phone because they didn’t want him moving pianos anymore or something because of the knee or the Alzheimer's.

Me: So- wait- what happened to the piano? Do you have it now? Did they ever get it up the stairs?

Frances: No, no. It’s at the dump. It was a good piano. It didn’t deserve that. No, they couldn’t get it up the stairs so it went to the dumps from the lobby- that’s where it was- and they gave me thirty days to get rid of it or move it, but I couldn’t do anything. It was a good piano, you know. It wasn’t in tune. You couldn’t tune it because they said it would break the strings, but it was a good piano. I didn’t play guitar along to it or anything, so it was all right for me. It was in tune to itself, you know.

Me: Oh, right, right. In tune to itself.

Frances: I tried to give it to some cafes, but they didn’t want it so the landlord he took it to the dump. He said it cost him to take it there, too.

Me: So, I actually just got my piano moved over here, today.

Frances: What?

Me: I just moved our piano to the farm today from the old house.

Frances: Oh, just today?

Me: Yeah.

Frances: Oh, I’m surprised they let you keep it there that long. It’s been months!

Me: But, we still own the old house in town where it was.

Frances: Still, I’m surprised they let you keep it there that long!


  1. So, wait...
    She imagined having a piano and all the drama of moving it?

    All along, it was your piano?

  2. No, no. I think she really had a piano. It's just some weird coincidence that she talked about her piano the day mine got moved, even though I hadn't mentioned it yet. Or- something. When I said I had never known her to have a piano before, I mean it's just weird that she has her own piano mover from long ago, because I don't remember her having a piano when I was a kid.

    I know. It's very confusing! Sorry. Poorly written.

    I think this probably all happened, in some way, at some time.

  3. This made me really sad. She hasn't changed a bit.

  4. Sounds just like Francis. You didn't write poorly, Francis is a very confusing person. You described it perfectly! The strange part to me is how she keeps saying how long her mover has been in business like the guy has no business getting older himself!

  5. Ah, mothers.

    If it was my mother the story would have gone 'And one of the nice Latino boys is single and I told him all about you...'

  6. Lou- Yes, she makes no sort of allowance for him! As though one could age indefinitely and still carry pianos up three flights of stairs, in spite of bad knees and allheimers and a lack of decent coworkers.

    Glory- I'm thinking your mother and mine don't have a lot in common! Except that their daughters might write about them occasionally, hopefully completely unbeknownst to them!