Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Duets with Mary

Earlier this month I was in the New York City area and had the privelege of meeting Jeff's (son-in-law-to-be) grandmother. Mary still lives in the Lower East Side apartment where she raised her family. One of her great pleasures in life has been playing the piano and a small Steinway grand sits prominently in the living room. Mary is deep into Alzheimer's, but remnants of her former self still show forth in her sparkling eyes and sweet smile.

A collection of Beethoven's piano sonatas sat on the music rack and I asked if I might play a bit. I began with the slow movement of the Pathetique and before long I heard Mary, sitting nearby, humming along. She moved over to the bench and played a little piece for me, over and over, something I didn't recognize. I suggested we play together, and while I read thru the Moonlight she watched my hands like a hawk and tried to imitate what I was doing. Occasionally she would go back to her own piece and the resulting cacophony was both hopeful and bittersweet.

I will not forget that afternoon of playing duets with Mary. It is another reminder, among many, of the power of music to heal, to cross boundaries, and to connect us with one another.

No comments: