“Will we get another dog when Elka dies?” Anna asked.
“Probably” I answered.
The kids have been worried about our boxer who turned 10 years old a few months ago. She’s slowed over the past couple of years. Her back legs become stiff, and she hobbles around the house trying to keep up with four young, active children. She used to chase them around the yard. Now, she sits next to the window and watches.
Of course, she can’t help but greet the kids at the door when they arrive home from school. And she’s always the first to welcome me home from work each day.
The questions about Elka continued until Kim began playing the piano. Elka was curled up on one end of the couch while the rest of us tried to position ourselves on the remaining two cushions.
Only the small light at the piano provided any light to the room. The kids wiggled around for a moment before quieting down as Kim began.
After we bought our first home, Kim convinced me that we needed a piano. Although I didn’t play, I figured I’d enjoy listening to her and I was right. She’s taught herself many new songs, and each one she plays today brings back memories of the various stages of our life we started together twelve years ago.
As four kids, one adult and one dog made it onto the couch in various stages of comfort, Kim played a song from David Lanz called “Behind the Waterfall/Desert Rain”. The kids watched her fingers dance across the keys emitting a tune we’ve heard her play dozens of times, yet never tire of. I’ve told Kim it’s my favorite song she plays.[audio:http://blog.nordquist.org/audio/waterfall.mp3]
I’m done trying to figure out what will help the kids settle down for the evening. Reading a story together works occasionally until one of the kids belches or worse and the kids topple off the bed in laughter. So I’m surprised when they all remain on the couch until mom plays the last note. Could it be the music has a calming effect on them? Either way, these impromptu concerts result in some of the best times we spend together as a family. The piano, not the television, has become the hub of our family, and has been worth every penny we paid for it.
Eventually the song comes to an end as does the peacefulness. Before long, balls and socks are being tossed around the room.
And that’s when I noticed that not once did any child pester Elka. Not even Kai. They left her curled up on the couch, and allowed her to rest. Even when it meant less room for them. I know they love her as much as she loves them. She just doesn’t have the energy to express it like she did when she was younger.
As I ran my fingers through her dark brindle fir, Anna approached me. It was clear she’d been thinking about her earlier question when she said, “When Elka is gone, I want a dog just like her”.
“Maybe this time we’ll get a tan and white boxer”, I added.
Luca was listening from the other end of the couch, and when she heard me, she said, “No way, Dad. Let’s get one that looks just like Elka”.
I hope Kim plays many more impromptu piano concerts for us. And I hope Elka joins us on the couch to hear a few more.