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Grandfather Lee S. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


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Any time I went to my grandparents' house, there were two guarantees. One, the candy drawer would be full, and two, my grandfather would be playing the piano.

Papa, as we called him, sat perched on a blue cushion attached precariously to a rickety piano bench. Stacks of music, yellowed with age, and outdated family photos were strewn atop the Emerson upright. Bony, arthritic hands lined with blue veins glided across the keyboard as his leather slipper tapped the pedals and his yellowed fingertips, stained from six decades of smoking, brushed against the ivories. Years of military service were displayed not only in the medals in the shadow box on the wall but in his impeccable posture as he pounded out his favorite melodies on the 88 keys.

“Clair de Lune,” “Liebestraum,” “Für Elise,” and “Moonlight Sonata” were often heard from the living room as grandchildren danced throughout the house. On Christmas Eve, our family would gather around the tree, open presents, and sing carols accompanied by Papa on the piano. The grand finale, “Anniversary Waltz,” was always played in honor of his beloved wife.

Then frustrated utterances began to mix in with the music. Click … click … click of a cane. With Papa now unable to straighten his spine, his perfect military posture became bent, and a humming oxygen machine drowned out the songs that he once played so effortlessly. The lamp that had illuminated the sheet music was no longer needed; no amount of light could overcome the macular degeneration robbing him of his vision.

In time, he spent most of his days in his recliner, tethered to his oxygen, listening to the music he once played. Next was a heartbreaking farewell to the love of his life. Eyes closed, appetite dwindling, Papa withered away. The candy drawer was empty and the house was silent.

Eighty-eight keys on a piano. Eighty-eight years well lived.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





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Chris Upperman said...
Jan. 18, 2010 at 8:42 pm:
Wow. That was a really good story.
 
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