Greenbean is friend who brings joy to little ones I have occasion to musically entertain along the path of my life. He is a non-human life form puppet who becomes whatever – whomever – I need him to be through my voice and right hand. A magical, mysterious monster? Why not! A compassionate listener? Sure. One who teaches the ABC’s of the grand staff? Absolutely. Since 2013, the year after my mom died, Greenbean has been a steady companion throughout the lives of many.
Why the name? The last voicemail left on my answering machine from mom was a breathy thank you for a green bean casserole dropped off earlier in the day. She was suffering from late stage cancer difficulties, yet found the few seconds to call. Always the generous soul, she would certainly make that call. It could have been a bag of chips or a quart of milk … her heart would reach out just the same. Food, favors, car rides, cards, … it didn’t matter to her. There was always a follow-up “thank-you” in some form. I knew of no other proper homage to mom than name happiness, thankfulness, and gratefulness after her …
… And with the same breathiness, I write during these early morning hours.
It’s my time to offer my thanks and gratefulness. To life and all it has … and to a special person.
Specifically, to the artist of “One Small Flower”. This small painting rests comfortably on the top of my Baldwin piano. As I play, never is it not a peripheral reminder of the gift of music endowed to both of us. A talented artist as well as a musician, her gift to me ensures an already high level of commitment I have to join her in a journey. We are, together, preparing a benefit concert to raise money for rare appendix cancer research. Our hope is not to raise millions (although that would be terrific). We want to share our gift and, as well, enjoy music together.
That concert is months away. Now is now and cancer does not take time off. The stage with a piano and a microphone awaits, but stage four is here now. I’m sad about this. There’s no denying my last 24 hours of tossing and turning can’t be appeased by a Chopin nocturne or Brahms Intermezzo at this moment. Music has specific healing power, but there are times when grief inside a sad brain can’t be silenced by listening to a lush symphonic crescendo, either. The artist of note has a blank canvas at the moment. Everything is secondary as this pianist types.
This isn’t about me. It is about the 2.5 x 2.5 inch gift of one yellow flower on my piano … because now is now. My dear friend is having a difficult time and I can’t do much more than type one letter at a time. One word after another … hoping, somehow, she knows there are silent musical masterpieces and invisible works of art being played and painted for her – soon to be heard and seen once again.
She is a steady, wonderful companion to many. An artist. A musician. One who deserves a call to simply say, “Thank you”…
I know mom and Greenbean wouldn’t have it any other way.