Sweet Emma Barrett or Mom Was Right

Welcome to another installment of “My Kids are Nuts: They Must Have Gotten It From Someone”.

This evening, my beautiful baby girl was sitting at the kitchen counter as I trod lightly across the hardwood floor.  I was hoping not to be detected as I made my way from the living room to the piano.  You see I’ve been working on a Beethoven Sonata for a little while and I enjoy sitting and playing and working it out until it’s perfect.  My daughter, soon to be six, has been working on “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and also likes to sit down and play when the mood strikes her.  Crazy genetics.

To make matters worse, my wife, when she sees me heading for the keys, likes to egg the situation on by suggestion to my otherwise unsuspecting daughter that she practice her pieces.

Needless to say I gave up the bench to my daughter who played beautifully.  “There’s only one problem, sweetheart,” I said.  I had noticed the way she was sitting.  I’m crazy pyscho about form.  If you do not have good form at piano, you should correct it immediately.  She was sitting with her left leg pulled up, foot on the bench, and her free arm sort of lazily wrapped around her knee while she pecked out the notes with her right hand.

I scooted her over and gave a demonstration.  “Should Daddy sit like this?” I asked, mimicking her posture, “Or like this?” sitting up straight.  She laughed.  I couldn’t tell if she got the importance so I offered a story.

“When Daddy was a little boy, his mommy – Grandma – told him this story.  She and Grandpa had gone to New Orleans.  While they were there they went to a famous jazz club.  A revered veteran of the jazz world was to perform at the piano.  To their surprise, a 90 year-old woman was chair-lifted to the stage by four men.”  At this point I started gesticulating and got into character so she could see.  “When she was in front of the keys, she rested her left hand in her lap, for she had long since stroked out.”  I started to giggle as my wife, fixing dinner, looked on incredulously.  “She proceeded to clear her throat and then played a song using just a few fingers on her right hand.”

My wife stopped my.  “I don’t believe this” – But I continued…

“On top of the piano, her assistants had placed a bowl of saltines which she would routinely grasp at and then nibble on in between notes.”  At this point I couldn’t control my laughter.  “You are making this up!” shouted my wife.

Now I couldn’t be called a liar in front of my daughter; not while teaching a lesson.  Still not sure what that lesson was but I had to prove myself.

Out came the phone and pretty soon I had Grandma on FaceTime.

My daughter (who has Grandma’s eyes) looked at the screen and said “Is Daddy lying?!”  To allay her shock I had to clue her in.  “Mom, they don’t believe me about the old jazz lady with the –”  At that moment Mom jumped in…

“The saltines!?”

Stroked and batshit crazy.  That's the life.

Stroked and batshit crazy. That’s the life.

We laughed heartily as she regaled us and told the same story, only better than I could have for she’s the one who witnessed it.  She likes to complain that she’s not that smart or doesn’t have a great memory but the woman is sharp as a tack. This must have taken place 50 years ago and she knew all the details without hesitation.  “Preservation Hall,” she said.  “That’s where it was.  I just can’t recall her name.”

Well, Mom, thanks for the story.  It certainly stuck with me.  And using your details I looked the chick up.  I think it was Sweet Emma Barrett.  And thanks to you, another generation of us will live to tell her tale.  And thanks to you and me, my daughter will either sit up straight or decide that if Sweet Emma can do it, so can she.  Because hey, she can be anything she wants apparently.

If you’ll excuse me, I’m off to find some crackers.  I’ve got some Mozart to work on.  Oh, and my daughter has my mother’s eyes.  She keeps them in a glass jar on her dresser.*

*Only Mom will get the reference.


One response to “Sweet Emma Barrett or Mom Was Right

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