In particular, she supported her two younger sisters as orphans during the Great Depression in Wyoming by playing music for coal miners.
I don't know how she learned to play piano, but it's been an integral part of her life for as long as I've ever known her. She'd play for the miners during their dinner time with a few other musicians in large halls. This necessitated playing very loudly of course and so I've never known her to play piano on a piano. Every key is struck with a blacksmith's touch -- a hazard of the trade when it comes right down to it.
Incidentally, the miners would occasionally keep them there for very long hours. It was traditional to play "Goodnight, Ladies" before ending the evening. At that time, the miners would pass a hat around and people would put money in. If it was considered enough, they'd play for a while longer and then start in with "Goodnight, Ladies" again. Sometimes the miners to keep them there until 3 in the morning by repeating this cycle. Good money, but they didn't get breaks.
She met my grandfather this way -- he played the trumpet.
As one might imagine, this took its toll on her hearing. Having my grandfather play the trumpet over her shoulder and slamming the keys of a piano for all those years has made her quite hard of hearing which makes communicaton by phone a dicey proposition at best.
This also had another unfortunate consequence. As of about 10-15 years ago, she's had to give up playing actual pianos. Partly because she has trouble hearing and partly because I don't think she could play quietly after all these years. Since then, she's had a little Yamaha keyboard which my parents bought many years ago. She plays (and sings) with her headphones on. The volume is generally high enough that you can hear the music through the headphones from 10 feet away or so.
Anyway just_aims, your post reminded me of her. It's not the first time that you've reminded me of her either. But those are other stories for other times.