Letters From Home: 'The Piano Has Saved Me, Particularly Right Now'

Jun 24, 2020

WOSU's Letters from Home collects stories about day-to-day lives during the coronavirus pandemic. This week, we heard from Ohioans answering the question: What are you adding back to your life as Ohio reopens?

Read responses to this week's question and other reflections from Ohioans below.

Rosemary Ebner Pomeroy from Worthington 

My husband and I made the decision to downsize and move to a condo about 5 miles away from our Worthington home of 23 years. We never envisioned moving during a pandemic, and actually looked at the contract for our new home and thought we might be able to get out of it. When we saw the writing on the wall, so to speak, we decided to go forward with our plans.

Now that I have moved, I was sitting on my new front porch, wondering what I could do, to feel a bit more normal in this time of isolation, and I realized what I could do is play the piano. I have been playing piano and taking lessons off and on for the last 58 years.

When I was a young wife and mother, my mom decided, since I was the only piano player, that she should ship our little Baldwin piano to our home. I lamented to her that I was busy with my husband, two children and a law practice, and that I wouldn't have time to play. My mom responded by saying something like this: "Rosemary, you may not be able to play right now, but I guarantee the piano, and what you have learned, will save you many times in your life."

I thought about my mom's words of wisdom, and she was perfectly right. The piano has saved me, particularly right now, while living during this pandemic.  It has enabled me to set my worries aside, for about an hour every day, and just focus on a piece that brings back incredible memories. I also practice a piece assigned by my teacher, which will "get to the bottom" of some of my musical issues, currently use of the pedal.

As part of the over-60 demographic, I'm still not venturing out a lot, but I am venturing in, to my brand-new den, where my amazing piano has found a new home. I always say when I play at the James Cancer Hospital that I am changing hearts and minds one note at a time. But honestly, now, I am changing my heart and my mind one note at a time. Who knows: Instead of just blowing through this virus, I may instead play myself right through the pandemic challenges. I think I can do it and I will!

London S. from Columbus

Hopefully some Dirty Frank’s!

Joy Frank-Collins writes in her Letter From Home on the challenges posed by new co-workers: two teenage sons and and a husband all in close proximity.
Credit Joy Frank-Collins

Joy Frank-Collins from Grandview Heights

We’re staying home, flattening the curve and social distancing like a bunch of pros. We’ve seen all of the toilet paper memes, participated in the now eye-rollingly trite Zoom happy hours that were so novel two weeks ago, complained about “new math” and binged Tiger King. What now?

For most, it’s time to enter “Retreat and Hibernate Mode,” where each member of the family for which you spend your last wakeful moments each night thanking the higher being of your choosing for delivering safely through such a perilous time, turns to their own neutral corners of the house and basically tries to stay out of everyone else’s way.

That would be a cakewalk if my husband, 16- and 18-year-old sons and I still lived in our spacious three-story, 3,000 square-foot, four bedroom, three-bathroom Victorian on a bucolic tree-lined brick street in the sleepy small town we lived in for 20 years. But nearly two years ago, we packed our lives up and moved to what was supposed to be a “temporary” 1,200 square-foot, open concept, thin-walled, two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in an area just northwest of downtown Columbus, Ohio, which is undergoing heavy commercial and residential new construction.

My “office” is the dining room table, which just fits in the space between the kitchen island and the easy chair, that is squeezed into a semi-circle completed by two couches that sit at right angles to each other, all facing the TV. My sons share a bedroom that opens right into the main room, as does “their” bathroom. The master bedroom and bathroom are behind the kitchen.

Under “normal” circumstances (read: non-pandemic), cramped as it is, the situation works. My husband works from roughly 7 a.m.-6 p.m., the older son is away at college, the younger one at school and I am queen of the domain from 8 a.m.- 3 p.m. or later, Monday-Friday.

But these are not normal circumstances.

I’m working on about a million projects simultaneously, each of which requires some level of concentration or at least time to get into a “flow.” I listen to music through my earbuds, but that doesn’t stop the boys from making stinky visits to the bathroom right by my workspace, constantly searching for food in the fridge or pantry, fighting about whose turn it is to sequester themselves in the bedroom with the PlayStation, or the running commentary about the Premier League. When I need to interview someone for an article I’m writing amidst all of this, the levels of scheduling and mental gymnastics required is mind-boggling.

Did I mention I have a cord-dependent laptop? Yeah, so no hiding in the walk-in closet for me (yes, I’ve considered it). Of course, then I’d distract my husband, who’s hiding out in the bedroom, clearing his throat every 45 seconds and speaking far too loudly into the mic on his ear buds while he takes his 312th call of the day.

Yolanda Owens from Pickerington, Ohio

The zoo and hopefully soon the museum. These are two places that my children absolutely love. They are also two places that they use their eyes to discover things, so it is less about touching and more about observing.

I am excited to take my oldest to the zoo for his 5th birthday next weekend. I can deal with the quarantine as I still go into the office daily, but them only getting to see their yard and neighborhood, these two things will hopefully provide some normalcy—well, new normalcy, because we will never be the same.

The Columbus Zoo is now re-opened to guests as of June 15, 2020.
Credit Ryan Hitchcock

This week, Letters From Home is asking the question: What are you adding back to your life as Ohio reopens?

Answer this question using the form below, and try to keep below 1,000 words. Your response may be edited for length and clarity.

WOSU brings you Letters from Home in partnership with the Columbus Museum of Art.