He Has a Mother Too

The large full sound of the piano keys drew me in. Warm, resonating, beautiful. His music filled this once sanctuary, turned place of rest and meditation, and sometimes place of worship, long after the notes were silent.

“Have you seen him before?” I asked. He had been there a couple of times, but this was the first time the administrator of this homeless drop-in center had heard him play. His music brought back a flood of memories of my older sister practicing piano when we were growing up and my own ineptness for musical instruments. I danced in a studio however, to the keys of Scott Joplin, and can still hear the bouncing rhythm of “The Entertainer,” his famous ragtime tune.

It also took me back to my early career working with homeless elderly in Santa Monica. Former show girls, wives of physicians, and Hollywood extras, they each taught this bright-eyed young college graduate, much about the ways of the world.

I walked up to him, placed my hand on his shoulder and asked if he was trained. I was amazed to learn that he was self-taught, then told him how very talented he was — a gift, truly. We exchanged names and then he began to sing as he played, while I experienced my own private concert. Teary, I hugged him, and asked him to never stop playing. He told me that his music was all he had.

How do I help? I was there because of my work with affordable housing. I’ll be back because my heart longs to connect with those whose lives I may not understand. I have a need to remind myself that I am so very blessed and that . . . they have a mother too.

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