Tag Archives: memoir

Avoiding Grief: “Moving with Gerard”

Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013

Roll: 6,5. Result: Feelings, Avoid.

o_O I’m gonna go litotes all over this.

No, the dying wasn’t the hard part. The hard part was moving out all of her old stuff. As it turns out she had been very fond of some very heavy types of furniture in her last years, and hefty knickknacks with which to fill them. Removing and loading everything into moving boxes, moving those boxes, and then also moving the furniture took a team of ten young men, mostly family aside from one bored man from the street.

His name was Gerard, and he liked to smoke his pipe on his stoop at exactly 1:30pm each day. As it happens, this is the time we started loading the truck, and some of our remarks had caught his attention. Apparently Harold had asked me whether or not the small arms ammunition should be kept separate from the sterling utensils, and my response was something along the lines of “I don’t give a damn, so long as the ammunition is kept out of the guns and the utensils are kept out of your pockets.”

Gerard was a sociable fellow, and approached to make small talk while all too easily producing impressive smoke rings at his leisure. He watched the nine of us sweat through our plain clothing while he looked on with a hand in the pocket of his tweed jacket. It wasn’t until we tried to handle the grand piano that his use became apparent.

Hearing shouts of “It just won’t fit through the doorway,” he pranced up the steps inside the apartment complex to the third floor, where he found me and two of my brothers trying to persuade a big instrument through a small opening. He merely said, “Gentlemen, please,” and gestured for a moment to call his own. We relented and he set to work dismantling the thing in the craftiest of ways; each time we seemed uncertain and moved to stop him, he would shake his head and then pop some piece into or out of place.

Suddenly the piano was a manageable collection of small pieces, and he picked up the pipe to resume his former pursuits, returning down to the street below with one hand in his pocket. When the piano made it down into a second truck, and everything was loaded, I found my way over to Gerard to thank him. I told him that I had no idea a piano maker would come in handy at all in my life, let alone this particular Tuesday when so many things which had previously felt right were going so wrong. I offered to buy him a drink when he helped us put it back together at my cousin’s place, and he declined.

He said something I’ll never forget, which was, “I’m not and have never been a piano maker. I can’t put that back together, but I’ll buy it off your cousin for twice what it’s worth, if you’ll forgive my habit of encouraging people to seek out my piano-dismantling services by murdering their piano-owning loved ones.”

– – –

We burnt the piano that night.