Sunday, July 18, 2010

Can't Stop the Music...

Just like any Empty-Nester, there are so many things I miss since my children have grown. And one thing I truly miss is the music. 

I don't mean the ear-splitting rock/rap/hip-hop music that was blasted during the teenage years...

I mean the initial discovery of music...

As a toddler, our son Jerry {LawyerBoy} loved to pound on Grandma Betty's piano keys with his chubby, sticky hands. 
I thought it was cute, although I was constantly wiping jelly off the keys. Being a somewhat frazzled Mom meant I didn't pay as much attention to the music as I did to the mess he was making. 
Jerry continued to pound out his toddler tunes with one hand on the piano and the other hand clutching a pacifier, a Matchbox car, or a fruit rollup {depending upon his age...and mood.}

Every trip to Grandma's found Jerry sitting at that piano wearing a wet diaper/big boy pants/swim trunks/jeans, and a huge grin. 
I'm not sure when it happened but eventually I started to realize that his incessant pounding actually sounded like something. Little snippets of actual music were slowly starting to least I thought so...And Grandpa Fran was certain of it. He thought all musical talent came from him...

Or from Great Grandpa Ed...

I'm not sure what came from where...I'm just glad it arrived.
As every mother does, I believed my children were destined for greatness. I loudly proclaimed...we have a genius! A musical prodigy! We MUST buy our own piano!

Big Daddy, who is lovingly referred to by his girls as "Cheapy McCheap"... said no. 
Actually he said "you're crazy, what's for dinner?"

Granted, there was no room for a piano. With a soon-to-be family of 4 kids, there really wasn't any open space. So LawyerBoy continued to pound out his music on Grandma's piano, the neighbor's Wurlitzer organ, and the beautiful grand piano at Nordstrom (this happened only once, and I believe we were asked to move along). 

The years passed and other things started to occupy Jerry's life. He still enjoyed the piano but although I still believed all my children were gifted, I no longer pictured myself in the front row at Carnegie Hall.  
But I did spend many years in the front row at Little League games, hockey tournaments and dance recitals. 

Then it happened..we moved.

Suddenly there was room for a piano. And just as suddenly our little prodigy {who was now a moody 12 year old} began to pound out not only sitcom theme songs, but his own music as well.
Isn't that called composing!??

The day he played the ND fight song {strictly from memory} was the day that BigDaddy decided he needed to part with a little of his money. 

So the Yamaha was purchased. I think I could do a separate post on Big Daddy bargaining with the piano salesman, but it's an embarrassing moment I still can't forget. For some reason I had married a man that thought paying in cash meant a fifty percent discount. Let's just say that we acquired a new piano from a store that no longer wanted our business...ever again...even if we paid cash.


LawyerBoy loved the piano, but like most 12 year old boys he liked other things more. He still played frequently, but now that we actually owned one, it seemed to have lost some luster. And as every mother of a soon to be teenager knows...when approaching the hormonal years, musical talents as well as manners may disappear. 

I thought formal lessons would be a great idea. I also thought that both my boys, and Maggie should partake in these lessons. 
Michael hated the piano. He despised it. He sneered every time he passed by it. He took a few lessons, and then I let him quit. I wasn't happy about this but the thought of watching his mouth clench while he angrily beat at the keys was getting painful. I let him return to his baseball mitt, his hockey stick, and his non-piano-playing friends. I believe he actually hugged me...he was that happy...


Maggie was allowed to quit also. It was cute watching her hold a Barbie in one hand while trying to practice. But it was an expensive form of cute, and the day she hid her Polly Pockets inside the piano was the very last day she touched ivory. She was happy too...

Jerry actually enjoyed his lessons. His teacher, Mr. Cafano was talented and patient, he was learning all types of music, and he had enough time to pursue his other teenage interests.

Around the high school years LawyerBoy explored other musical realms. He picked up a trumpet and quickly played it... beautifully. He picked up a tuba and played that just as well {although a tuba hardly sounded beautiful to me.}
While Michael played football on the field, LawyerBoy blasted a trumpet during the pre-game, and lugged a huge tuba on the same field at halftime. I'm not sure who sweated or exerted themselves the most during those years. I just remember washing huge piles of sweaty, dirty uniforms, sitting on the metal bleachers, and eating churros every Friday night.
{There are no pictures of me during those years}

{And someone won't be appreciating my posting of these classics}

Life moved on too quickly. College took over, and everything became more complicated. My little boys began planning their big-boy lives and things like sports and music were quickly replaced with thoughts of fraternities, women, and finally careers.

And my hopes of holidays spent around the piano while my children played and sang..... all gone.

The rest is history...and really not that interesting.

Music to me now consists of ITunes, an occasional concert in the park, dancing at weddings, and choosing my ringtones. Embarrassing, I know.

LawyerBoy still plops down in front of the piano when he comes over but he's usually unshaven and drinking a beer at the same time. I still enjoy it, but it's just not what I pictured. 
Yes, he still plays Chopin and Sinatra but those Irish drinking songs are getting annoying.

I do have great memories of our piano though. For so many holidays my Mom and my aunt would sit down near the piano and listen to LawyerBoy perform his one man show. They'd nod and smile at each other...quite certain that it was their gene pool that had all the talent. 

I dust the piano when I think of it.
I've even moved it to another room.
But for the most part it just sits there in it's splendor, reminding me that one day (God Willing) there may be grandchildren pounding the keys...and I just happen to have the number of a very good teacher.

As for LawyerBoy and his musical aspirations...

He's learning some bagpiping now with the Shannon Rovers . Between work and an upcoming marriage he still enjoys his love for music and still has that urge to try new things.

I'm not sure he's going to like the kilt thing though.

"Without music life would be a mistake."  
~Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

For more beautiful mosaics, visit Mary at...


  1. What a beautiful post! Lovely mosaic and photos.

  2. Wonderful post...I miss the school concerts. My daughter played several instruments, and now that she is in college, she doesn't play anymore.

  3. I loved reading the story behind your mosaic. It was very entertaining!

  4. I so enjoyed your post tonight. We had my grandmother's piano in our front hall after she moved to an apartment and I took lessons..but they were on Saturday afternoons....and they interfered with basketball practise so I gave up my lessons to sit on the basketball bench. I wish I knew then what I know now...I still love music - and I cry whenever I hear children in choirs sing.

  5. Simply loved your mosaic and your post. Hubbie just bought me a piano for my 50th ... now we have the room for one. Unfortunately I haven't played in well over 30 years ... so there's lots of 'little snippets' of music happening, but also lots of horrible noise!!

  6. That was a wonderful post and thank your for sharing a part of your life with us.

  7. Boogieboard CottageJuly 18, 2010 at 10:17 PM

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful music pictures and mosaic!Have a nice week, Mary

  8. What a terrific post! Enjoyed it :)

  9. What a terrific post, found by accident and greatly enjoyed!!! Right there with you about missing it when they go... violin was our bag!!! And granchildren, well we will see...

  10. Beautiful mosaic! Have a grand day!!

  11. What a wonderful post, Mary Elizabeth. And such wonderful photos to go along with it. I really like your blog and am happy I found you on Mosaic Monday.

    I hope you have a beautiful day,

  12. Thanks Susan!
    Glad I found you too!!


  13. With grandsons who both love coming to my house and "pounding the keys," I found this post very touching and meaningful. Both of my own children took piano lessons for three years each. They begged to quit, but I would not release them reasoning that an education should be well rounded. I never find either of them at the piano these days.

    Still, keep that Yamaha! You just never know...

  14. Great story about the music in your family and the mosaic is lovely.

  15. I must admit I do not like long postings and many times I click the x at the top and go on to something else but I read your story from beginning to end. I think you are one proud momma of laywer boy and he should be proud of his momma. Wonderful story.

  16. Loved this!...the mosaic and the story.
    My mum loved music and thought that we were all prodigies. In the end we all played something, but it was only my brother who went on to make a career of sorts from music - as a bagpiper. There aren't many cosy evenings gathered around the wailing pipes - but he's handy to have at wedding time!