When my mother had her 50th birthday, my father bought her a piano.
I came home, and there it was in the lounge, and my mother was just sitting beside it.
"Come on! Play something, Mom!" I said.
Well, my mother took a moment, and closed her eyes. The room was very quiet.
Then, she took a deep breath, and raised her hands, and then she touched the keys. It was truly an extraordinary moment! The music that flowed from my mother's hands (apart from a few shaky starting notes!) was exquisite! It seemed to fill our small lounge room with something new - something truly God-gifted, heaven-sent.
When Mom had finished playing, I cried out:
"Mom, I never knew you could play like that! That was amazing!"
Mom just looked a little embarrassed, and shook her head.
"I used to be quite good, once," she replied, quietly.
"Good?" interrupted Dad. "She was incredible! Still is! Glad to see you haven't lost it, Em!"
I looked at my mother's hands, not as young as they once were, but beautiful in their telling of the work that they had done, through all the years. But now I saw my mother's hands in a different light. These were the hands that conveyed a precious gift!
"Mom..." I asked, incredulous, "Why did you leave it so long to bring a piano into this house? All these years of silence, and yet you were capable of this?"
My mother looked up at me with misty eyes - I swear that there were tears swimming just beneath the lids.
"Well ..." she said, smiling, "There was never quite enough money, I guess... I mean, you know how it is... family...kids... everything costs! Guess there was never quite enough left over to buy a piano..."
Suddenly, it occurred to me, that this was a new mother! Surely it couldn't be the one I knew for all those years! The Mom who washed and scrubbed and cooked and ironed and who drove us all to baseball practice and ballet and school and church - surely, she wasn't the same mother that kept this secret of music in her soul, and practiced it only in her heart, somewhere quiet, before God?
It's funny the things we don't know about people, even when we think we know them well - even when they're our mother! Somewhere in her being, Mom must have sacrificed so much, to give to us, her kids, her family! And all this time, our Mom was hiding her light, under a bushel!
Well, I'm pleased to say, that God's gift to my Mom, didn't go unnoticed, even if it was celebrated a little late! Mom took it upon herself to go to all the old folks homes in our parish neighborhood, and play the beauty of her music to them. Manys the time I heard back, via the grapevine, that she had brightened someone's day, gladdened someone's heart, with her beauteous gift of music.
I guess, my Mom's life has been a lesson to me - how much may be quietly sacrificed, by those of good heart, who give to others - and maybe, we'll most of us, never know!
The good heart offers its gifts quietly, before God; I am learning this -
God bless you, Mom! And thank-you God, for the gift of Em's piano.
2010 Laura Swindon-Ross. All rights reserved.
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I'm a teacher and Christian writer.