Grannybarb is dead, and so is her piano. Long live Grannybarb, and long live this piano.
Grannybarb, for those of you who did not know her in life, was an intrepid girl reporter, a steamboat cocktail waitress, a drug and alcohol counselor, a Zen buddhist, a constant artist and a beautiful pianist. She was a great wit, a shameless flirt, an unparalleled grandmother, the first female editor of the Daily Iowan. She had the BEST stories. Her mantra was "everyone does their best, and some people's best is really shitty."
Did you know that pianos, like people, die? It's true. They have about 80 years, give or take, depending on humidity and how much they were played. This one was born in 1928, and lived most of its life at the very bottom of Louisiana, in a tiny Cajun town reclaimed from the swamp in the 1930s. And Grannybarb played it every day, finding time between meditation, crafting, painting, making stained glass and cooking gumbo.
She donated her body to OHSU so doctors could learn. I'd love for this piano to go to artists so they can make something. She made art constantly -- we found tiny oil landscapes on the backs of business cards, little watercolor faces on receipts -- and for us to know that her piano had found new life as part of some art would mean a great deal to those of us who miss her.
But maybe you'll do something else with it. Maybe you will make it into a garden planter, or chop it up and have a great bonfire. Who knows. Hours before she died, I asked if she was looking forward to being reincarnated.
"Oh," she said, airily, "I don't really have any thoughts on that."
Well, I asked, do you think you will be reincarnated? She blinked.
"Again ... no real thoughts."
So ... so does that bother you?
She looked at me like I was insane. "Well, I don't see how it matters either way, darlin'. Right now, I'm here with you."
She is no longer here with me, and this piano is no longer a piano. But I hope it will be something else.
It is, obviously, free. I cannot deliver it to you. But it's in a ground-level garage.