Today is Chopin’s birthday and all I am remembering is my friend Gregory playing this composer’s works on his piano in his and Michael’s home in Evanston –the home they moved into on the very day that our son was born. After a walk through Gregory’s beautiful garden, a delicious meal served around their rustic wood farmer’s dining table in the kitchen, after a demonstration of some of Hoover’s (or was it Mariah’s?) amazing cat fetching tricks, a trip upstairs to view Gregory’s latest architectural designs, after an exploration of Michael’s additions to and rearrangements of his many collections (later to become part of Michael’s Museum at the Chicago Children’s Museum at Navy Pier), we would be treated to listening to Gregory playing Chopin on the Kawai in their living room. When our son was small he would sit next to Gregory and, if given permission (and all the rice was out of his hair), would hit a few keys.
That was long ago. Now Gregory is in a facility for patients with advanced Alzheimers, having long since moved out of the house on Poplar Street. Michael is working on making sense of his life without Gregory so present in it. Our son is struggling to figure out the direction of and the relationships in his life’s journey. JB is working on growing older with grace. Listening to Chopin’s Ballade No. 1 in Gm, I am thinking about passages—including my retirement in just a few years— and how I long to hear Gregory play the piano again.
(Several years ago, Michael wrote a very moving post on Gregory and Chopin– In The Moment: A Story in Four Acts with A Prologue and an Epilogue. )