Finding Your Middle C

Thanksgiving is here, and so starts the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Families and friends getting together uniting over a glutton’s delight, a month before vowing to start the year out right with the new diet plan. But beyond the commercialization is the heart of something really special. They include time spent with loved ones, examination of gratitude by giving to those who need it, seeing beyond ourselves, and seeing beyond all the things that get in the way. I think that’s part of why people love the holidays. We sit in church and reexamine our lives. Carols about joy, love, and giving are everywhere you go. Bright lights are put up and decorations fill our homes. And that season generally starts with Thanksgiving.

Finding Middle C

When reading Michelle Obama’s book Becoming today, about her getting the chance to play the piano at a recital in downtown Chicago when she was a little girl.

“And yet there was a problem, one I discovered in the split second it took to lift my little fingers to the keys. I was sitting at a perfect piano, it turned out, with its surfaces carefully dusted, its internal wires precisely tuned, its eighty-eight keys laid out in a flawless ribbon of black and white. The issue was that I wasn’t used to flawless. In fact, I’d never once in my life encountered it. My experience of the piano came entirely from Robbie’s squat little music room with its scraggly potted plant and view of our modest backyard. The only instrument I’d ever played was her less-than-perfect upright, with its honky-tonk patchwork of yellowed keys and its conveniently chipped middle C.”¹

Because there wasn’t a chip in middle C like the one she had been practicing at her aunt Robbie’s she could not recognize where it was located. Middle C on the piano for those who are unfamiliar is the middle of the piano and helps piano players to know where to place their hands. Without knowing where it is a piano player is lost. I’ve been feeling a lot like that girl who can’t find middle C lately.

This past May we lost the matriarch of the family, my grandmother. Also known as GeeGee, Big Mom, and G Mom, but to me she was always Grandmother. She was elegant yet sincere. She was loving toward everyone. She volunteered for her church as long as I’ve known her and way before then. She loved music and didn’t like it when hymns at church were embellished in either melody or words. Christmases and Thanksgivings were surrounded by her love for each and every one of us. She was the glue of our family. She was our middle C. I miss her so much.


This year our family will get together. And it won’t be the same. I work as a nurse at Oklahoma Methodist Manor at first because she lived there. I now work there to carry on her legacy of serving others and to be near the memories of her. One year we watched An Affair to Remember on New Year’s Day showing on the large screen at OMM. It’s amazing how holidays can bring those memories rushing back. So even though today when I go to my Aunt Karen and Uncle Doug’s house there will be a sadness, but I will cherish the ones who are still here and still with me. I will hug them a little tighter this year. I will engage in conversations a little longer. And even though she won’t be there, her example will continue to be my middle C.

Sarah Jackson

Vigilant Poster Girl

PS: Read Becoming by Michelle Obama along with us here.


  1. Obama, Michelle. Becoming (p. 16). Crown. Kindle Edition.


  1. Pingback: Becoming by Michelle Obama ~ Book of the Week – Vigilant Poster Girl

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