On the Piano Bench

By Casey Brady

“Many people lose the small joys in hope for the big happiness.”

– Pearl Buck

            Note after note, sound after sound, the grand piano echoes my movements, reverberating with the resonance of eighty-eight unique singular noises, all combining and mixing in ways unseen to create whatever piece my heart desires. The pedal squeaks beneath my toe, and the blend is increased to a smooth weave of quieter sounds, the grand piano relaxing as I allow it to slow. My body relaxes, and I am at peace on the piano bench.

My eyes close, and I allow my fingers to play on their own, dispelling the last stresses of a long day. A sad, minor sound creeps into the recesses of the humming music as I recall the depressing times of my day, and I feel my hands slide to a higher point on the keys, creating an almost bubbly sound, as I remember my happy moments. My left hand falls deep to the bottom notes and a loud, angry minor sound echoes as I remember my worst moments, yet then I shift back up to a quieter sound, releasing myself into the piano, enjoying the wonderful bliss of nothingness and contentment on the piano bench.

I vaguely acknowledge that my dad has come to sit and listen, but I refuse myself the leisure of performing for him. Right now I am not performing, but letting the sounds created by my fingers wash away all my stressed parts and thoughts. Perhaps my father is enjoying the musical cleansing himself, but he cannot have reached full contentment simply by listening. The only way to truly listen is to be on the piano bench.

Now a shout breaks the reverie, and my fingers miss a note. The call for dinner slices apart the hum of the keys, and I finally allow my fingers to come to rest. My dad has gotten up and left, yet I cannot leave until the piano is finished. The final sounds echo to silence, flushing the last bits of tension from my body, and I stare for a second into the convex reflection of the polished, hardened wood. Releasing the pedal, I stand, and the piano bench creaks in protest. I know I will return tomorrow. The contentment held for me inside this magical instrument continually draws me back, and there is no way to resist the happiness I enjoy on the piano bench.


My oldest son, Casey, wrote the above essay for his college applications last summer. His writing transferred the emotions of “the bench” so well, I hate to add anything here that would subtract from the reader’s ambience. 

I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did! 

Terri Brady

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Guest Blogger Casey Brady is a senior at Wake Christian Academy, heading to North Greenville University this fall to study Sports Management (business). His soccer abilities can been seen on the current North Carolina state champion team, TFCA 96Boys. Though he enjoys music and blesses others through it, he plans to keep it as a hobby as opposed to a profession. He is a wonderful big brother, piano teacher to the young (including his sister!), friend to many, and recently became a National Merit Scholarship Finalist. I am blessed to call him my son, because of the way he lives out his life verse, Proverbs 1:7.

A special thanks to Casey for letting me share his talents!

The following video was his last recital with his Michigan teacher four years ago (age 14-ish). My! How he’s grown since then – on and off “the bench”!

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The Book is Here!

Introducing: Letters to Lindsey in book form!

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Thanks to my husband’s initiative and his incredible, creative team; thanks to you who requested it; and thanks to the late Russ Mack who persistently encouraged it: Letters to Lindsey (the book) is available! With a foreword by Laurie Woodward and introduction by my best-selling husband Chris, let the stories begin! The chronicled journeys through infertility and the brain tumor survival,  tea parties and fishing trips, along with enflamed underwear (size 4T) on a chandelier are all decorated with my kids’ cute quotes in Post-It note form.  It’s a short read, a long read or anything in-between. So curl up with a blanket in front of the fire, make some fresh popcorn and hot chocolate, (or just go to the beach!) and relish some quiet reading time as you laugh with me, cry with me, and grow with me!

Enjoy!

-Terri Brady

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Readers (you!) in line for book-signing in Milwaukee, WI.

The Influential Stranger

A few months before I was born, my dad met a stranger who was new to our small Tennessee town. From the beginning, Dad was fascinated with this enchanting newcomer, and soon invited him to live with our family. The stranger was quickly accepted and was around to welcome me into the world a few months later.

As I grew up I never questioned his place in our family. In my young mind, each member had a special niche. My brother, Bill, five years my senior, was my example. Fran, my younger sister, gave me an opportunity to play “big brother” and develop the art of teasing. My parents were complementary instructors– Mom taught me to love the word of God, and Dad taught me to obey it.

But the stranger was our storyteller. He could weave the most fascinating tales. Adventures, mysteries and comedies were daily conversations. He could hold our whole family spell-bound for hours each evening.

If I wanted to know about politics, history, or science, he knew it all. He knew about the past, understood the present, and seemingly could predict the future. The pictures he could draw were so life like that I: would often laugh or cry as I watched.

He was Iike a friend to the whole family. He took Dad, Bill and me to our first major league baseball game. He was always encouraging us to see the movies and he even made arrangements to introduce us to several movie stars. My brother and I were deeply impressed by John Wayne in particular.

The stranger was an incessant talker. Dad didn’ t seem to mind-but sometimes Mom would quietly get up– while the rest of us were enthralled with one of his stories of faraway places– go to her room, read her Bible and pray. I wonder now if she ever prayed that the stranger would leave.

You see, my dad ruled our household with certain moral convictions. But this stranger never felt obligation to honor them. Profanity, for example, was not allowed in our house– not from us, from our friends, or adults. Our longtime visitor, however, used occasional four letter words that burned my ears and made Dad squirm. To my knowledge the stranger was never confronted. My dad was a teetotaler who didn’t permit alcohol in his home – not even for cooking. But the stranger felt like we needed exposure and enlightened us to other ways of life. He offered us beer and other alcoholic beverages often.

He made cigarettes look tasty, cigars manly, and pipes distinguished. He talked freely (probably too much too freely) about sex. His comments were sometimes blatant, sometimes suggestive, and generally embarrassing. I know now that my early concepts of the man-woman relationship were influenced by the stranger,

As I look back, I believe it was by the grace of God that the stranger did not influence us more. Time after time he opposed the values of my parents. Yet he was seldom rebuked and never asked to leave.

More than thirty years have passed since the stranger moved in with the young family on Morningside Drive. He is not nearly so intriguing to my Dad as he was in those early years. But if I were to walk into my parents’ den today, you would still see him sitting over in a corner, waiting for someone to listen to him talk and watch him draw his pictures.

His name? We always just called him TV.

– Anonymous

Dear Lindsey,

My Bible Study Fellowship leader, Carolyn Simpson, shared that Stranger story with me in Flint, MI, over a decade ago. It certainly has made me think twice when allowing our own “stranger” to talk to my children.

If I fill a ketchup bottle with mustard, it becomes a mustard bottle, right? Mustard is what would come out of it if the bottle got squeezed. Similarly, whatever is inside of me is what will come out whenever I get squeezed. Any time I am allowing influence into my life or the lives of my children, I am responsible to make sure it is something worthy of coming out when I get squeezed. The Bible says that out of the mouth, the heart overflows. Our hearts are influenced by the inputs into our lives: the people with whom we associate, the books we read, the media we watch. Somehow, the Stranger doesn’t often meet the qualification of that with which I want to be filled. I am so thankful the above author helped me reframe my former thinking about the Stranger who was always talking in the corner of our house. Without the TV, we have more time and room to be filled with the Good stuff.

God bless,
Terri

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Wet Light Fixtures and Oatmeal Kisses

Dear Lindsey,

Tuesday (coincidentally the day after I had written you regarding the underwear fire), I left three children for a few hours in the morning, while I went to a friend who was dealing with news of the unexpected loss of her father.

When I returned, a Brady crime scene was underway.  Water was pouring out of the light canister in the ceiling of the first floor. I walked past to find the two male culprits Continue reading