“What is that?” Nathan asked. “Oh, it’s apricot and almond galette,” I said proudly. “It’s for dessert tonight.”
“Oh, so fruit pizza.” Flashback to the 80’s Fourth of July parties of my youth: rolled out 9×13 rectangle of puff pastry, or maybe Pillsbury dough, with cream cheese topped with strawberries and blueberries in formation to resemble the stars and stripes. “Um, yeah, sorta,” I said. But not really since I made my own almond cream and everything.
This day snuck up in the best way possible. June is always busy with school ending and summer beginning. There wasn’t time to worry about my baby brothers delivering me a piano from two states away. Imagine how many things can go wrong when a grandpa and a young adult try to get a piano out of a victorian house built in 1902. Forget the interstate commute, just that descent down the side porch stairs alone is worrisome. But Dad’s a carpenter and really smart about this stuff. He drilled boards into the stairs for a supremely stable ramp. Apparently he was going to replace the stairs soon anyway. He set them up for success at least.
I love them so, these youngest two brothers, born when I was 15 and 20 years old. They are not much alike. Christian’s energy fills a room. Extroverted, pierced, passionate, quick to loudy laugh, he lives intensely in the moment. Nathan is taller, thinner, four years younger, quieter, introverted, mellow, academic, and just a smiley, pleasant teenager to be around. Nathan’s the guy you never get tired of, a brother you always want to be around. They haven’t always gotten along mostly because Christian spent most of his youth being the kind of brother no one in the family wanted to be around–dominant, aggressive, antagonistic, difficult. But Christian has matured and seems to be making it up to his little brother, even tossing around the idea of moving to the same town as Nathan when he goes off to college next year.
This was a gracious gift. Not so much the piano itself as technically it’s just on loan and someday I’m going to have to get to Ben, another brother. But moreso the gift of free delivery–like the Amazon Prime of family perks. I simply picked a day and Christian, who turns 22 later this summer, did the rest. I had thought of renting a u-haul but they figured Dad could use his boss’s covered trailer for free. Christian wouldn’t let me pay them either. “No no no, we’re family,” he asserted cheerily last month when we went over details.
This was the first time being an older sister felt like a return on my investment. I poured myself into loving on these boys. And for the most part, despite my teenaged angst and big-family loathing, I loved them not on principle or out of duty, but because there they were in my life and wanted to sit on my lap after dinner and in the bike seat behind me on my mom’s old ten speed for a ride. All those Wednesday nights of babysitting Christian in high school so my parents could have dessert at Cracker Barrel*, all that time in the kitchen loading and unloading the dishwasher of all those plastic cups used only once, trying to curb the chaos, to find the calm–the clean– beneath the clutter, to stem the tide of mess, it seemed like it all came back to bless me when I’d forgotten all about it.
Today it all redeemed itself in a free piano delivery that was on my part effortless, in which everything fell sweetly into place, the way things rarely do in life, especially in my family. This must be what its like to have adult children or grandchildren who after all the work and stress of raising them come back to bless you in ways you could never have dreamed up. This must be what its like when your kids come back to rescue you from a need you thought you were above having. Some day my own children will bless me this way–in ways too big for them to understand, in ways that are a wink from God.
So they showed up, those baby brothers of mine, with the piano trailing behind them, hidden in that swanky silver pod. We went inside and loosened the wenches (yes, there were even wenches!), lifted it onto a most-appropriate, perfect-for-the-job little wheeled scooter that came, it seemed, from heaven above. With a quick lift they got it on the scooter and guided the piano down the trailer’s built-in ramp. They pushed it across the paved-last-week street to the driveway toward the house. Then my husband and Christian alone lifted it up slowly and carefully up a step to the porch and then one more step up into the house. And then there it was–that old piano that seven kids and countless students and even my dad, but most importantly, my mother–had played on, from which hymns were played, with which voices were raised–now here in my house. A little grimy, a little dusty, but rich in sound, in voice, in history, in potential, here was that piano in my house. I asked if it was in tune. Nathan played Moonlight Sonata to test it out–not bad at all for being tuned last three years ago and spending the day in a trailer pulled 150 miles at high speeds. This upright Yamaha from 1978, the sound, the fixture of my childhood was here now in my house.
For the rest of the day before they went home I kept wanting to sit and visit with them, those baby brothers of mine. But they are not in a life stage that appreciates sitting yet. Maybe you have to be a parent to really appreciate stillness. Or maybe it’s just age. Creeping ever closer to the middle of life my tendency is to invite guests to sit on the patio and relax. They kept getting up for a round of Clue, to ride bikes and scooters on the new slick street**, to play basketball with my kids. It’s a funny kind of thing having siblings so young.
We had a crockpot dinner of chicken and rice. Then my husband made coffee and we had the galette, which turned out stellar even though I’d never made it before. We sent the leftover dessert home with the boys for our parents since it was their anniversary (which I’d forgotten) and their piano.
It was a day of anniversaries. Thirty-nine years to the day (the piano movers informed me) my parents were wed and received this very piano as a wedding present. Less significantly, three years before, also to the day, my husband, kids and I moved into this house. All this added up to a day that was unceremonious, but seemed somehow sacramental. It was a day that–more than most–bore the mark, the weight, the taste, the sound of blessing.
It’s four days later and I get this text from my dad:
Thanks for the fruit pizza. Nice flaky crust 😃😃
*My mom, I’m sure, wants you to know that she always paid me for babysitting.
**I meant to tell Christian to bring his longboard skateboard (is that how you say it?) but forgot–the one hitch of the day.