On May 30th I wrote a posting titled Vignette- The Young Fan. There was another story to write about another young fan which I almost included in that previous posting. But then I realized that it needed its own space.
So as well as the young boy who sat beside my husband, there was a young girl in the seat in front of him. I don’t know whether Rich noticed her or not and I haven’t spoken to him about her since. She was a little older than the boy in our row, perhaps in her mid to late teens – fifteen to seventeen years old.
She was dressed very ordinarily – jeans and a t-shirt. She had just-below-shoulder length dark hair in a non descript style. She was neither “pretty” or “ugly” – whatever those labels mean. Just a very ordinary girl at a concert getting ready to enjoy herself. But within a few minutes of noticing her I realized that she was far from ordinary.
She sat next to an older woman who I initially guessed to be her mother or perhaps an aunt, and they were with two other women who sat on the other side of the girl. As I said, I noticed she was different and after watching her for a while I realized that she was probably somewhat mentally challenged. I have volunteered with the mentally and physically challenged in the past so I have a soft spot in my heart for them.
Her jaw hung a little slack which left her mouth always slightly open and the corners of her mouth were always wet as though she were about to dribble. When she turned to speak to or listen to the woman next to her she didn’t just turn her head, she purposely choreographed her whole upper body in a complete physical turn toward the woman. Her eyes seemed extra bright, as though they were on the verge of tears, and they were more wide open than the average person’s.
There was a moment, just before the concert began, when one of the women said something and the girl obviously found it very comical. She began laughing and shaking her body up and down, almost in a jumping motion, as she brought her hands together, as though to clap, but then just rubbed them together very quickly. She was very excited and her eyes became even more brilliant than before.
Once the first act started and the audience began to warm up, people began to clap to the music. The girl’s mother (she may also have been a caregiver), began to clap and the girl first scrutinized her to check out exactly what she was doing, and then began to clap also. It was a very careful and purposeful putting the hands together movement, as though she had studied how to do it and was now practicing.
Not long after that the audience began to really warm up and many chose to stand up and raise their hands to God. The mother/aunt/caregiver rose to her feet, continuing to clap, and began swaying to the music. Again, the young girl studied her movements and only once she was sure of the sequence did she then get to her feet and, keeping an eye on the older woman, began to clap and sway side to side.
Throughout the whole concert this scene played out in front of me. The older woman would laugh, so the girl would laugh. The older woman would make a specific movement, so the girl would do the same. Just as a toddler learns his or her behaviors from watching and imitating, so this young girl was learning how to function in the big wide world.
It made me think how vulnerable these special people are. They are filled with such an innocence and trust totally on the adults in their lives to show them the way, to show them how to behave and act around others and in specific situations. I prayed that the people who took care of her were good people who loved her and would protect her. I also said a prayer of gratitude for my own children and asked God to keep a special eye out for all the more vulnerable people in our world today.
I have been getting my notes together to write up several posts as promised in my last article. However, before I write those posts I need to write a small vignette that I experienced a week ago. My husband and I are Christian music fans and we had tickets to attend a concert in Jacksonville.
There were three acts. The opener was Trevor Morgan, a new voice on the Christian music scene and very talented. He was followed by the band 10th Avenue North which has been playing the Christian scene for several years now and have become very popular. To round out the evening in top billing place was a great band called Third Day who we had previously seen at Disney’s Night of Joy. This band has been playing together for about twenty years and I really like them. Their lead singer has a most unusual voice.
As we settled into our seats, I was sitting to the right of Richard, we were joined on Richard’s left by a young mother and her son. I guess the boy was about ten years old and it became fairly obvious that he was very excited to be at the concert. After a short conversation, we discovered that he was a die-hard Third Day fan and he could barely wait for them to come on stage.
The concert began and we all thoroughly enjoyed Trevor Morgan. I think we will be hearing a lot more of him in the future. Tenth Avenue North gave us a great performance and took us up to the interval. Richard went off to grab us some water, and the mother and son also left the auditorium. When they came back the boy was happily munching on a giant pretzel. His mother said he needed “replenishing before Third Day appears”.
After a few moments, she opened a bag and pulled out a couple of CD’s. With a certain air of wishful expectation, the boy asked her what she had bought and I heard her tell him that she had really liked Trevor Morgan and wanted to support him so had decided to buy his CD. She then went on to say she had really enjoyed Tenth Avenue North and didn’t have any of their music at home and wanted to get their CD too. I saw the boy’s expression drop somewhat at that piece of news, but then his Mom said, “but then I changed my mind and got the Third Day CD.”
It had been a while since I saw someone’s face light up in such a way. The boy gasped, his eyes opened wide, and this great big grin spread all over his face. He put his pretzel down and held both hands out for the CD. Smiling happily the mom handed it over and ecstatically the boy took hold of it and drew it in towards his chest. He sat there for a few moments without saying a word. He clasped the CD to his heart, his eyes were closed and a beatific smile spread from ear to ear. He was totally “in love” in that moment.
After a while, he opened his eyes and slowly began to examine the CD. It was as though he was holding a precious jewel. He lovingly stroked the front cover and I fully expected him to start drooling any minute. He carefully turned the CD over and I assume he was reading the song titles. At this point the mom said that she would put it back in the bag until they got home and she put her hand out to take it. But the boy clutched it, kissed it, and put it back to his heart, closing his eyes once again in sheer sublime happiness.
I was so in awe of this whole little scene that played out right there beside us, and just very impressed that this young man was so passionate about a Christian band. I was also grateful that he had a very loving and supportive mother. She gently explained that if he wanted to finish his pretzel he would need to let go of the CD and that it would be safer back in the bag. I also heard her say that he could play it as soon as they got into the car for the ride home. He reluctantly let go after a couple more kisses!!
Well he then had his heart’s desire fulfilled when Third Day took the stage and played practically non-stop for almost two hours. It was truly a remarkable performance and the boy stood in his seat for the entire time, eyes sparkling and singing along with the songs that he recognized. What a great evening we all had and I know I will remember that boy’s face forever.
I could begin this posting with an explanation of why I have not written in a while. I could easily say that it’s because I have been so busy with all the Christmas activities that we tend to get ourselves involved in at this time of the year. But I have specifically worked at not getting too tangled up in the “Christmas crazies”.
I have learned not to leave gift shopping to the last minute. I actually “Christmas shop” throughout the year. As I visit different places I try to find interesting items for special friends or family members. Sometimes I’ll see something really unusual and I’ll grab it knowing that it will make a wonderful gift for someone, whether it be Christmas or Birthday.
This doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy the sights and sounds of Christmas around the shopping areas. I love Christmas – the lights, the songs, and those special smells that seem to surround this particular season. But I’m not frantically running around looking for that perfect gift for everyone on a long list. I do still have one or two items that I want to get but, in one case, I know exactly what to get and where to get it, and in the other case, I know the right thing will pop up when it’s ready to reveal itself.
I haven’t been to a slew of parties nor do I have a bunch to go to between now and Christmas Day. I’m not stressing out about the Christmas dinner. I know we will do a “traditional” meal, turkey with all the trimmings, although it will be a little bit different because we love to deep fry the turkey. (For those of you who have never tried it, believe me it is delicious and not in the least bit greasy!!)
One Christmas project that does take up a lot of my time and energy is “my Christmas card list”. In my previous posting The Muse Has Been Gone – Again!, I mentioned that I have many people in my address book, family and friends that I have made over twenty five years of being attached to the military life.
I am also a creative person and I try to make many of my own cards. So from the beginning of November my craft room turns into a Santa Workshop with colored card stock, embellishments, ink pads galore, and stamps strewn haphazardly all over the place. (I know where everything is!) Many of the cards are simply signed “With Love and Blessings” and our names – a token sign of friendship and memories shared. But many require a longer note and a few are filled to the brim with news. So I have been writing – quite a lot – just in a different way.
However, I think I need to admit here that I have been avoiding the computer and the writing of postings. I didn’t set out purposely to do this. I am simply acknowledging right now that I think at some deep level that’s what I’ve been doing. I have also been putting a lot of energy into staying positive, and when that kind of energy is being used it’s difficult to have much left for creatively writing.
Why have I been avoiding the computer? Because when I write, my feelings come out (you may have noticed that if you read my postings regularly), and I guess I just wasn’t ready to do that because it might have been a great big “BLEAH” of stuff and I don’t like visiting that on an unsuspecting audience. So in the last few days I have had the opportunity to talk some of the feelings out and to pray about them A LOT! And here’s what I have discovered.
I am tremendously sad deep in my heart because Christmas is a time for celebrating “family style”. I’m talking about extended family. All my childhood Christmas memories are of the family coming together: aunties, uncles, and cousins. People were all over the place, and the kids ran around. Bits of wrapping paper were stuffed under chairs, music played, and there was a never-ending supply of food and drink. It was warm, and comforting and such fun.
Well, the extended family is thousands of miles away. Even my husband’s family is pretty long distance here in the States. At Christmas I always invite people to the house who are alone or who also have far-flung family and we do have good times. But it just isn’t quite the same. Perhaps it would be truer to say that it’s great and the fellowship and socializing is really good, but I still miss my family.
They always say to “leave the best for last”. In this case it is the “most difficult for last”. The biggest sadness that fills my heart right now is the estrangement from my beloved daughter. (And here come the tears; there have been many bucketfuls of late.) Because of the lifestyle she chooses to live I do not even know if we shall see her over Christmas, and this breaks my heart. She lives close by and yet it seems that an ocean divides us.
My Christmas prayer (which is my everyday prayer) is that God will bless and protect her and guide her to right choices. And this is a prayer that I offer for everyone who may need it at this time of the year.