Mine: So much of life is contained in such small things. What holds meaning for you?

Nathaniel Grann/The Washington Post

Shelley Kartman Sarsfield

63, Denton, vice president of a Burger King franchise

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M y mother was determined to give us the kind of life she couldn’t have. The daughter of Russian immigrants, she found life in Chicago in the 1920s difficult until she met my dad on a blind date when he was stationed at Chanute Field during World War II. They married and came to Baltimore, where my father’s family was established in the candy and tobacco business.

While my brother got to play in Wellwood Little League, my sister and I were enrolled in every kind of lesson, and I was forced to take piano. My mother also had to acquire all the accouterments for each activity, so she purchased a baby grand. I hated piano lessons, never practiced, and my repertoire, which I show off to my little grandchildren, consists of “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and the four opening chords of “Slaughter on Tenth Avenue,” my father’s favorite piece.

So the piano sat closed in their living room for half a century, all the family pictures proudly displayed on it. When my parents died, they left my brother the desk that had served generations of attorneys. They left my sister the dining room set that had held decades of dinners, and they left me the piano.

Wherever I have lived, I have made sure that I had a music room; the cats sleep stretched out in the sun on the piano; and I look at all the generations of family pictures. I will leave the piano to my granddaughters. They don’t play, either.

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