As I tried out all the pianos on the stage of the Eisenhower Theater at the Kennedy Center, one piano stood out. Its sound was clear, sharp, resonating—magnificent. I realized that this piano was the one I had played in the lounge and fallen in love with. To my astonishment, Susan bought that piano and had it delivered to my home.
That piano, new, was then priced at $85,000. I’m sure Susan didn’t pay that much, but the cost must have been in the multiple thousand-dollar range. She never told me where she got the money, but my guess is that it was from her share of her mother’s estate.
Here’s the background: Her mother and I had separated some years before. During the divorce proceedings, just as I was about to testify about my wife’s failures during the marriage, a neighbor came into the courtroom with one of my daughters, at the behest, as I learned later, of my wife, and timed to coincide with my testimony. I wasn’t about to describe in detail my wife’s sins in front of one of her children, so I clammed up. The result was that I lost heavily in the divorce. My ex-wife ended up getting the family house, for which I still was required to make monthly payments, plus a generous alimony. As a result, I was so poor that I ended up living in a rented room in a joint house.
One of my children sided with my wife during the divorce; the other three, including Susan, expressed no allegiance to either side. Years later, when my ex-wife died, her estate, consisting of the family house and her savings from the years of alimony, was divided among her four children. My belief is that Susan used her share to buy me the piano, her way of reimbursing me for what she saw as the unfair distribution of wealth at the time of the divorce.
Today, that piano sits in a room dedicated to it—I call it the piano room. The space is ideal for music-making. The room is two stories high with one wall windows, so that sounds in the room are bright and crisp, unmuffled. My glorious piano has found a proper home.
Hence my life in music. Although it didn’t end up being my profession, music has been an unparalleled joy to me throughout my many years of living.