“The best things in life aren’t things.”

“Treasure your relationships, not your possessions.”

“You can’t take it with you.”

But you can leave it behind.

Since my mother’s death we’ve taken great comfort in her things, her possessions, objects she loved and wanted to share with us. There’s been no arguing among my siblings about who gets what and absolutely no talk of money. But slowly, over the last several months we’ve claimed objects that bring us peace.

For my brother, it was the strawberry plates on which my mother served breakfast to he and his children in the rough early years after his divorce. For my sister it was the dining room table where she and mom played games with the kids and created elaborate Halloween costumes. For all of the girls in the family, bits and pieces of mom’s jewelry make us feel like she is with us.

I’ve received more than most. I use her iPhone, I’m driving her car (an old Audi wagon that I adore) and last fall I packed her brown plates and glasses between towels for the transfer from her kitchen to mine. Even though my mother had specifically told me to take them, I felt strange removing the platters and bowls from her shelves.

“I feel like I should be asking permission.” I lamented to my brother.

“Well mom’s not here to give it.” he insisted, “But I know she wants you to have them. C’mon, I’ll help you carry them to the car.”

This week, I brought home her piano.

It’s a grand and it’s gorgeous and when you open the lid it is LOUD.

Best of all it reminds me of my mother.

She wasn’t a great pianist. Neither her childhood nor mine were conducive to lessons. But when her life calmed down a bit in her fifties she found a teacher and began to improve her skills. Our old family piano– the yellow $100 garage sale upright with butterflies painted across the front– didn’t have working pedals and her teacher insisted on a better model.

My mother shopped around and ran her fingers across many a keyboard, “I shouldn’t buy a grand until I’m good enough to deserve it.” she lamented.

But the tone of a grand piano lured and enticed her until she decided to buy the piano and become the pianist she dreamt of. And that is one of the things I love about my mother, she was constantly learning, finding ways to improve. The bench was filled with her music books and a little notebook with lesson assignments and practice charts.

Even simple scales sounded majestic on her gorgeous instrument and as daily practice honed her skills she filled the house with hymns and classics and old love songs.

No one at my house is a great pianist either. We’ve been fine with our old upright for years now. Ben and Stefan can play; only Hans takes lessons. But the allure of the grand piano draws everyone in and in the few days we’ve had it I’ve caught every child at the keys. The sound is so rich and lush and beautiful. And with it in the house, each of us will grow and improve and become.

Ben has claimed the piano as his refuge. He pounds out “Come, Come Ye Saints” and sits underneath it for reading and homework. He says it’s cozy.

And now we have an extra piano. It needs a home where it will be loved and played and adored. We don’t want to sell it; we just want someone to enjoy it. Let me know if that’s you (edited to add: it looks like I have two good possibilities for a new home for the piano– I’ll let you know if those fall through).

small girl not included

“God loves material things. He made them!” C. S. Lewis

March 2, 2010
March 9, 2010



  1. Kerri

    March 6, 2010

    That is one gift that will bring joy to your whole family for ever after. What a beautiful way for all of you to feel connected to your mom.

    I hadn’t thought about reading under my piano…I may just have to follow Ben’s lead.

  2. katieo

    March 6, 2010

    Let me know if that’s you.

    Ummmm, REALLLLY? Are you really offering your original piano to any old blog reader who would enjoy it? Because if you are…

    I’m raising my hand up WAAAAY high in the air. ME ME ME ME M E E E!!!!

    If not…and I just didn’t understand correctly, then heh heh, nevermind.

  3. Admin

    March 6, 2010

    tears, again, as I started and finished this post. thanks for giving – so much inspiration and hope – to all of us readers (whether we comment or not). you are a blessing in my life. someday I hope to meet you and be inspired by you in person, as was my cousin Melissa.

  4. Robyn Lamoreaux

    March 6, 2010

    I am totally interested. I have two very cute boys 10, 8 that just started piano this fall. Who are are loving to play. We have been borrowing the piano teachers keyboard and she needs it April 1st ….we have been looking everywhere for a piano. One that has been well loved and can stand all five of my kids learning to play on it.
    I live in St. George and am friends with Andrea (that’s how I found you!) I love your blog and check it frequently. Your family is beautiful and so very talented. I love hearing about your 5 boys….and hope my 4 boys turn out as well. Your writing is inspiring.
    Let me know if you are serious about the piano…I would even pay, and drive up and get it.

  5. crissy

    March 6, 2010

    If anything should fall through, please know that I will gladly give your old piano a loving home.

  6. Tracy

    March 6, 2010

    Oh Michelle – gorgeous post. Are you sure Mary doesn’t come with it?

  7. GeorgiaBecksteads

    March 6, 2010

    I have my grandparent’s upright piano and their tapestry hanging above it in my front room. I call it my happy room and smile every time I’m in there or look in as I walk by.

  8. Linkous

    March 6, 2010

    we are looking for a piano, but I’m sure you’ve already found someone among your many admirers and friends 🙂 I’m so glad you have another wonderful, useful, beautiful, magical THING to help you feel the love of your mother. I can’t wait to hear Ben pound out those hymns!

  9. Mathmom and family

    March 6, 2010

    Well, now, see I already have a piano. I wanted the cute girl!!

  10. Sue

    March 6, 2010

    I used to lay under our baby grand piano while my sister practiced and also while my mother played violin. It was the perfect place to be on a hot afternoon in Palm Springs.


  11. Diane

    March 6, 2010

    Years ago I got our old family spinet piano. I was the only one who played, and my children all learned to play on it. Eventually we graduated to a nice Yamaha upright (no room for a grand).

    I gave away our old piano to a young family with children ready to learn to play.It was one of the best things I’ve ever done. Not a single regret. Good for you for passing on blessings to another family.

  12. Jan Russell

    March 7, 2010

    Omigoodness, that last quote is so my new motto – lol.

  13. Malisa

    March 7, 2010

    My great-uncle and aunt, whom I never knew very well, decided that they would like to carry on the tradition of music in the family and decided before they passed away to use what money they had to buy pianos for their family, including their siblings families, who could play. We were one of the lucky recipients and were able to choose and purchase a $3,500 piano as a wedding present. This incredible gift has helped keep music alive in our home as I’m sure your generousity will do for others. Our piano also carries memories of those who have gone before us.

  14. Claudia

    March 7, 2010

    We can we come play on it!?!

    What a treasure.

  15. Denise

    March 8, 2010

    Dang, I would totally have taken the small girl. We like those around here.

    And I love your sentiments about your mom. Keep writing. It’s healing.

  16. Amy D.

    March 8, 2010

    You don’t know me, but I follow your blog faithfully and always find comfort in your words. If those places fall through for the piano I would LOVE it. We recently bought a new home and have a spot just waiting. I have two young kids and have dreams of piano music drifting through my home.

  17. Chelle

    March 8, 2010

    It is just lovely. May I come and play on it again? : )

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