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Woster: Music knows what you’re feeling

Spare time usually came only after the supper meal had been served and the pots, pans and dishes washed, dried and stacked away. Feeding and caring for a working husband and five active, growing kids consumed much of her time, day after day.

She played mostly by ear, although she taught herself to read some music. She played show tunes and big-band songs and more tunes about Ireland than most people know were ever written. When I was quite young, before I started school, I can remember rolling around the living room floor while my mother played piano. Her daytime playing came in brief moments — while a cake or pie baked, or while she waited for a pot of water to heat. It didn’t occur to me at the time, but after I grew up and left the home place, I could see that my mother snatched a few moments here and a bit of time there, just to make the music she loved.

The poet Maya Angelou is credited with having said, “Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.’’

My dad never heard of Angelou, as far as I know, but I’m sure he’d have understood what she felt. He recognized that in his spouse when she took a break and coaxed one melody after another from the chipped keys of the black, thick-legged piano. He told me so, in his way, once when we were trying to fix a hinge on the south gate in our yard. It was a warm evening. The windows were open throughout the house, and as we worked, the music my mother played flowed out of the living room and across the yard. Dad paused, pliers forgotten in one hand, head cocked toward

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