Claire de Lune

May 28, 2008
By Annie Schmid, Brentwood, MO

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
- e. e. cummings

“And I-EEE-I will always love you,” Whitney Houston’s cheesy ballad blared out of my headphones while I lounged on a lazy summer evening several years ago. The gooey feeling stirring in my stomach was irresistible. Images of starry eyes and moonlit walks conjured from lovey-dovey melodies gave me a sense of something to look forward to once I was older, and when I experienced it everything in the past would seem inadequate.

Forgetting to pause the song, I ran downstairs at the call for dinner. Returning later to my Ipod with a full stomach and a readiness for more day-dreaming, I realized Whitney Houston had changed to my favorite musician, Debussy.

I am clearly not the only one to fawn over the composer’s “Claire de Lune.” The dramatic and spectacular array of notes inducing wonder and excitement is why the song is what it is; a masterpiece. However, I enjoy the piano solo on a different level than the standard musical critique. My grandma, Lucille, used to play it.

At once, you envision a bright-eyed little girl listening and watching as her grandma glides her fingers across an old-fashioned piano but ironically, I didn’t know my grandma played the piano until she passed away at the beginning of my sophomore year. Sadly, I didn’t know a lot about my grandma. Her personality didn’t consist of talking about herself, let alone claiming bragging rights for mastering an amazing piano piece. I never knew she was a librarian, or that she worked for the government.

I wasn’t the biggest admirer of my grandma, anyway. She complained about her Mexican gardeners, was an avid golf fan but questionably disliked Tiger Woods, and the criticism my dad gave tainted my opinion of her. I loved my grandma, of course, but only as a distant granddaughter would love a distant grandmother. It was a secure relationship that consisted of informing her about my good grades and avoiding the uncomfortable topic of a bad one.

However, while I listened to Claire de Lune on that summer night, a realization crept into my mind; my focus on her flaws had skewed my judgment of her. The accomplishments she made and the interesting facts about her were never fully acknowledged because my mind simply didn’t want to do it. It instead wanted to put an emphasis on her racist and out-dated remarks.

This realization had not only shown that I wrongly judged her, but it caused me to grasp something else, being the significance of her modest love was just as vast as one to be shared in the future. I then regretted not making an effort to get outside of the grandma/granddaughter bubble of knowledge.

After dealing with a deep sense of loss, I tried to cope by doing what I never did: focusing on the good aspects of my grandma. Memories of her love of dogs and Christmas, her yummy oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and the squeaky cleanliness of wherever she lived lessened the pain of never really knowing her.

It also didn’t take me long to see how the imperfections I had so eagerly detested actually taught me. Somewhat accepting my grandma’s ways taught me tolerance of other’s beliefs not matching my own. Her modesty of her accomplishments showed me humility. Her “I am very proud of you” at the end of each birthday and Christmas card gave me a sense of self-importance and an ambition to maintain that pride.

To this day I make an effort to remember my grandma as someone who loved me dearly, and an element to my childhood that I wouldn’t ever forget. I, as e.e. cummings so eloquently phrases it, carry my Grandma’s heart, or memory, within my own heart.

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