Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Piano

Years ago, I had a piano. It was given to my friends' family when the practice rooms at the University of Florida didn't want it any more. Her family had it for 15 years, and then they gave it to me. It was probably the ugliest piano I have ever seen, but in spite of its broken keys and less-than-beautiful tone, it held it's pitch. And it was MINE. I had that piano for about 5 years, and I played it A LOT. I learned the whole Jon Schmidt catalog on that piano, played and sang the Sesame Street songbook hundreds of times with Paul and Kate and Wade, taught piano lessons and accompanied flute students, and practiced for multiple Primary Programs on that piano. It was pretty much a piece of junk, and I sort of hated it. But like I said, it was MY piece of junk, so I sort of loved it. I hated it, but I loved it. It was all I had. And everyone knows that new pianos are pretty hard to come by.

One afternoon in January of 2002, I was sitting at that very piano with one of my students, having a piano lesson. A large truck pulled into my driveway. The driver hopped out and came around to the back of the truck and raised up the door. My student and I watched as he climbed in the truck and began moving things around. I said, "I should probably go tell him that he's about to unload at the wrong house. We're not expecting anything to be delivered." My student and I laughed, because we both knew that I would do no such thing. We wanted to see what he was bringing, and see who should be the lucky recipient!

Another man descended from the cab of the truck and began helping the first man move what I could now tell was a beautiful, ebony finish, brand new piano. At this point I stood up and moved toward the door, because even my nosy self knew better than to let people move a piano that does not belong where they are about to move it. I opened the door to tell them to stop, to tell them to take that beautiful instrument away, because it wasn't mine.

One of the delivery men met me at the door and cheerfully announced, "Here it is! We've brought your new piano!" I could barely choke out the words, "I'm so sorry. You must be at the wrong house. We are not expecting a piano." I looked longingly at the piano sitting in the truck, ready to come into my house and be mine. But I knew they would take it away.

The man looked at his clipboard, and said, "Is this your address?" He showed me the line with my very own address printed there in big, clear, block print. I blinked several times, and looked again. I even checked to make sure it said Provo and not Orem. Common mistake in these parts, you know. I looked at the man, hardly able to breathe, and whispered, "Yes. That is my address."

He smiled and said, "Well. Then this is your piano!"

I stood there wondering.

He stood there waiting.

We both stood there while my student and his helper watched.

I quietly said, "But I didn't buy a new piano. Where did this piano come from?"

The delivery man said, "I don't know. I'm just the delivery man. But I know we're at the right address, so let's get that piano in the house!"

So I stepped out onto the porch and opened the door wide to receive my wonderous, amazing, ANONYMOUS gift. They brought the piano into my house, and put it right in the middle of my living room. As I was not expecting to have a new piano, I did not have room for a new piano, but that glorious instrument stood there proudly, dwarfing everything else in the room.

I signed the paper that said the piano had been delivered safely, and covertly scanned the form to see if I could tell who had purchased the instrument. On the line signed by the purchaser, there was no name, only the words "Your Heavenly Father loves you!" No other clue. Nothing but my name and my address, right there on that official document. I suspected my parents, although I knew there was NO WAY they would EVER have afforded this, as much as they love me. I susptected my husband, but I could not believe he would have spent that much money without consulting me first. And he couldn't have kept this kind of joy a secret from me. Could he? I susptected Dennis's dad, but I didn't know he was a sneaky kind of guy. I wondered if my piano students had banded together to buy better instrument for their lessons. Unless each family donated about $1000, that probably wasn't the case. My mind was a whirlwind of questions as I thanked the delivery men and closed the door behind them.

I turned to my poor student, who had been quietly watching these events unfold. We looked at each other for one quiet moment, and then we both ran to the piano. She sat on the padded, adjustable artist's bench and I sat in my teaching chair, and she played Beethoven on my brand new piano. While she played, I called my husband, and I cried while I told him what had just happened. He insisted that he had nothing to do with it and that he was as surprised as I was.

When my student reluctantly removed herself from the new piano, my new piano, and went home, I called my mom. She cried. But she wasn't responsible. I called my father-in-law. He was amazed. But he wasn't responsible. I studied the invoice. I called the music store where the piano used to live. I asked for details on this purchase. The employee said he remembered that an older woman had paid CASH for the piano and that she had asked for it to be delivered anonymously. I asked if I could send a thank you to the store that they could forward to my benefactor, but he said they did not know who it was and that there was no way they could help me.

The story of my piano spread through the neighborhood like wildfire. My friends came to see my new piano. We speculated together about who would, who could do such a thing. We moved the faithful, old piano to the side and put the new, mysterious piano in its place. I felt guilty for wanting to love my new piano, but love it I did. Thoroughly and completely, for hours every day. And every morning when I woke up, I remembered my wonderful piano, and I hurried to get the morning underway so I could love my piano some more. I played it, and I shined it, and I played it some more, and I let my students and my children and my friends play it, and we smiled and we wondered.

About a month later I got a letter in the mail. It was mailed in Rockford, Illinois. I don't know ANYone in Rockford, Illinois. The letter was from an anonymous sender, who told me the story of a large debt. When the debtor tried to pay the debt, he was told that the debt had been forgiven, and that he was no longer required to repay the sum. The debtor insisted on paying his debt, and said that God would know what to do with the money. So the person who made the loan received the payment and knew that he must do something special with this money. He prayed about what he should do, but never felt right about any of his ideas. One day an acquaintance approached him. The acquaintance told of a dream he had had in which a struggling music teacher with an old, broken piano opened the door to find a new piano being delivered. He dreamed of me. According to the letter, when the dreamer told the man with the money about his dream, they both knew that I would be the one to benefit from this special money. They bought me a new piano with money from a forgiven debt.

It's a crazy story, I know. But I still have the letter. In fact, I am looking at it right now, and I forgot that enclosed with the letter was a copy of the song, "His Eye is on the Sparrow."

I still don't know who gave me my piano. It is the great mystery of my life. The old piano was given to a family who needed a piano and couldn't afford one. The new piano gets played every single day. Multiple times. I still love it. I still marvel and wonder.

And I cannot help but think, every single time I look at my gift, my free and amazing gift, about another gift I have been given. Another gift where a debt was paid, but this debt was mine, and it was paid for me. My chest tightens when I think about that debt, and about that payment. You have the same debt, and yours has been paid, too. And I have a shiny, ebony finish piano in my living room that reminds me every single day of my debt and of Who paid it. It's a very special piano.


Susan said...

Wow. What a story! And what an amazing gift to have been given.

heath said...

That stuff really happens? Wow! That is so awesome. Thanks for sharing such a cool story.

Rachel said...


I remember the first time I saw that piano. I remember your excitement and your awe. I was more happy for you then then just about anytime in my life. Thanks for sharing this and for helping me remember.

Love you lots!

PS. You should send this story (as written in this blog) to the Ensign. :)

Lee and Melody said...

I remember when that piano came, but I had never heard the part about the letter. What a wonderful thing to have happen, since there is nobody more deserving! And you put the story down beautifully. I agree, you should send it to the Ensign!

Sharon said...

Wow! How touching! I love how you can recognize our debt that is paid when you see it. What a blessing!

Enjoy the new piano!

Erica Peterson said...

wow! I love that story! it is true that miracles do happen, and even though sometimes we feel like God doesn't really care that we need a new piano or a new flute, he really does.

Thanks Marianne!

love, erica

Annie said...

What a great story! I'm glad you wrote it down!

JoEllen said...

Wow! What else can I say? Thank you for sharing that story with us, Marianne.

What a great reminder for you to see every day.

Love you!

Kim said...

Marianne, that is amazing! You absolutely need to send this to the Ensign. It's a beautiful reminder, and you wrote it so beautifully. AND, I'm glad SUCH a deserving music teacher was chosen as the recipient! That must have been an exciting day. :)

Janice Pyper said...

Sis, what a treat to relive that wonderful story! I also agree that it is Ensign material! And I would love to read that letter sometime ... I hadn't heard that part either! What a joy it is to have a daughter like you in my life!!

Tat said...

Micah and I are both crying. Right now.

Lainie said...

I love that story Marianne. It should be published in the Ensign or something!

t.t.turner said...

Okay, this story brought tears - what a beautiful gift! You really should send this story to the Ensign!