Life Lessons from Sharing a Bench With My Little Piano Partner – Columbus Monthly | Start Classified

At the age of 63 I started taking piano lessons. My teacher, Ida Goldberg, usually limited herself to children, but she made an exception for me. One of the kids had his lesson right after mine and Ida thought it would be fun if we both played duets. “The girl is so strong. So determined,” she said. “She really wants to play the piano. She couldn’t wait to get out of the hospital so she could start classes again.”

That’s how I met Michelle.

Michelle was tiny. We shared the piano bench, angled it so she could reach the keyboard and give me room for my comparatively huge legs, and we worked our way through “Yankee Doodle” and “Skip to My Lou,” gaining mastery each time. Improvement was very important to Michelle. It wasn’t that important to me. I just cherished the time with her. I was struck by this little girl, 6 years old, a woolen watch cap covering her head and bald from chemo, boldly playing her part with her tiny hands. Continued treatments for her leukemia had bloated her small body, stunted her growth, and made her bones fragile. She wore a plastic corset under her blouse to protect her ribs. None of that slowed her down. We were an unlikely pair, separated by half a century and several feet tall. The next time we tilted the piano bench, I said to her, “You grow or I shrink.” She laughed and laughed.

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