An Open Letter to My Grandma’s Harp – Nancy Davis Kho

nancy davis khoThere you sit, in the corner of my dining room, a 100 year old beauty in a state of Miss Haversham disrepair. Your sinuous curves, outlined to great advantage with thin scrolls of gold paint, contrast sharply with the strings that pop out in odd directions. You exude such a magnetic charm that children and adults alike are drawn to pluck your strings, to run their hands along your dusty angles, and finally to ask the question that you hypnotize them into uttering:

“Who plays the harp?”

And I have to answer, every single stupid time, “No one.”

Ok! I never learned to play you! Get over yourself! You’re not the only instrument in the world!

My paternal grandmother was what might be diplomatically be called “reserved,” stiffening her arms at her side when we hugged her and sending back our thank you notes with red-lined corrections. Once, when my brother complimented her cooking, she sighed, leaned heavily against the counter, and said as if in pain, “It’s only a casserole.” So when my father told me after her death that she left me her precious 1923 Irish harp, I was touched. She remembered me! And this is the harp she carted around to old folk’s homes to give concerts, when she herself was an old folk. “She knew how much you like music,” my dad said. “She wanted you to have it.”

Music as in going to concerts and downloading songs until the credit card is smoking, yes, I like that type of music. Music as in playing it myself? Not since that fateful ninth grade day when I broke my arm in a game of tag football and finally had my escape from Mrs. Hargrave’s piano lessons. Or as my brother refers to it, “That day you stopped playing piano, one month exactly after Mom and Dad bought you a brand new one.” [Read more...]