I used to be a fairly decent pianist when I was younger. Much younger. In fact, I was my piano teacher’s top student, and she, herself, had been a student of Bela Bartok. She wanted (expected!) me to continue my studies at Oberlin Conservatory in Ohio. The last piece I was studying before I became a musical slacker at age seventeen was Chopin’s Revolutionary Etude. As I look now at these stubby little fingers and listen to the harsh notes they make on my piano, I marvel that I ever came that far.
Alas, about the only thing I can play now is old sheet music from the Twenties, Thirties, and Forties. I have quite a good collection from an old friend of ours who lived through most of those days. The tunes are familiar ones because I heard my parents croon them when I was growing up. I even sing some of them to my granddaughters as their goodnight songs when I stop in their rooms to rub their backs and kiss them one last time for the evening. Mind you, my granddaughters are nine and thirteen, but they still love to have me sing to them at bedtime when I visit.
I never paid much attention to the words until I started playing one of the songs last evening. The song was Irving Berlin‘s “Always.” It’s my nine-year-old granddaughter’s favorite, but I never knew the second verse until I started to sing along with my playing: “Dreams will all come true/growing old with you/and time will fly./Caring each day more/than the day before/Till spring rolls by./Then when the Springtime has gone/then will my love linger on.” I read those words and found myself getting a little weepy. What a sap you are, I thought. But, God, I love that man of mine and those words said it all! I read them again and let a tear or two fall before I sighed, pulled myself together, and turned the page to reveal the next song, Al Jolson’s “Anniversary Song.”