Leaving the nest

•February 22, 2013 • 5 Comments

A year and a half ago, my youngest moved out. It was time, she was grown and working. Most of her friends had moved out of the nest years ago. Her brother had left years ago, and both my husband and I survived. As father time creeped up upon us all, I remembered a poem  I had written many years ago while she was a teenager. I would like to share it with you now. It is especially for the parents who are facing the end of their children’s childhood.

My childern of yesterday.

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Letting Go

My mind tells me I must let , although my heart resist.  The object of my clinging heart, will never know how much she’s missed.

I never truly realized my mother’s great sacrifice. But now with my own daughter, I pay the difficult price.

My mom and I were as close as a mother and daughter could be. She was a loving mother who took such pride in me.

I did  my best to for-fill her modest expectations. Although my dirty bedroom did often test her patience.

She said ” You will go to college” of that there was no doubt. She supported all my dreams to help me take that route.

But I never realized the price till now, she paid. When she packed me off to college and sent me far away.

The loneliness she must have felt, she never said a word. And when I finally married only jubilation was heard.

Now my own dear daughter is yearning to stretch her wings and grow. I know it’s only natural, but at times I must say NO!

I know that villain father time will all to soon take her away, But as I rise each morning, I pray, ” Father not Today!”

My children of today.

 

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Cherish your children while they are young, they grow up much too fast.

I REALLY AM AN AUTHOR-The Book Signing

•December 3, 2012 • 15 Comments

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This past weekend I had an extraordinary  experience. I had a book signing in Philadelphia.  This was not exactly my first book signing, because the week before I had a book signing in church. However this was my first book signing in a real bookstore.

When I arrived I was greeted warmly and given a table to display my book. I sat and waited for the public to  discover me and extol me with praised for such a fine work. I waited, and I waited. It soon became evident that this was going to be a LONG afternoon.

About an hour into the process my relatives began to come. God bless them. There were hugs, congratulations, and lots of conversation. This might not be such a long afternoon after all. Then…….. my niece Tippy came.  She entered the store and immediately announced that ” This will not do. No one can see you from the hall, people are walking by and don’t know you are here!”  Unlike most people who see a problem and tisk, tisk, and do nothing about it, she took a book in her hand and proceeded to extol the virtues of my book Rag Doll Tales to everyone in hearing distance. In my mind she was the answer to a prayer. She stopped old men in their tracks, young men out for a stroll in the mall with someone special, families, children, and everyone who dared to walk down that section of the mall. Many came in the store to take a look, some even bought books, some even bought MY BOOK! At the end of four hours I was almost out of books. Add to this scene more relatives, some of whom I had not seen in many a day, and the afternoon literally flew by. Not only that, Tippy made such an impression on the store owner that he took her phone number and asked her to come and “work” all his future book signings. Now that is what I call a good day.

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Rag Doll Tales is available at: Amazon.com. Booksamillion.com and Barnesandnoble.com. 

Rag Doll Tales is on Facebook, please stop by and click LIKE.

Good Bless and good reading.

Rag Doll Tales

•August 4, 2012 • 11 Comments

I am a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a retired teacher, and I AM AN AUTHOR

Rag Doll Tales.  

The night was cold, as cold as her feelings. A young slave mother named Mabel sewed all night. Her candlelight creation yielded a crude Rag Doll, a gift for her youngest daughter, Natty. She knew when the sun rose, she would see her child for the last time. Her heart was heavy. She named the doll Eugene, the name of Natty’s father. This way, she thought, the child would always remember her roots.
 
As the wagon drifted out of sight the young child said, “Her name is Eugene Mamma Mabel”—a remembrance of both her parents.
 
Thus began the story of a Rag Doll named Eugene, and the legacy of a family from slavery through civil rights.
Rag Doll Tales follows our little heroine Eugene from her creation during slavery, emancipation, jim crow, and finally civil rights. Through her eyes we see the history of an African-American family, their struggles and triumphs. It is an easy and most enjoyable read, that I hope will give many children and adults pleasure. Rag Doll Tales is available at: Barnesandnoble.com, Booksamillion.com, and Amazon.com.
Recommended for ages 8-12
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the people who have been reading my blog these past three months. Your comments have been wonderful, and inspiring. To clarify one thing, I do not know how to do anything but write. I use wordpress.com and they do everything for me.  All I do is pick out the background and write. I have not ignored many of your questions, I just don’t know how to answer them. Also I ask you please not to repost my original work. Everyone is invited to my blog to read and hopefully enjoy. Several readers have asked about this. I would also like to invite readers to visit my other blog:vonniesmuse.wordpress.com This is a blog of inspiration.  May God bless you all.
For further information about Rag Doll Tales, or any questions I can be reached at:
Twitter-scribe312
Facebook-Yvonne Augustin (authors page) Please visit and LIKE
Sample Rag Dolls for free. The first story, The Rag Doll is available at:
If you like it try the book, available on Amazon.com, if not, thank you for trying my book. In any event God bless.

I Live in a Mad House-OMG, it’s a ….

•July 27, 2012 • 32 Comments

New cell phone owner and family.

We have all had those moments when someone surprised us with something that was absolutely the best thing we ever thought we could get. Reaction was anything from dropping to our knees and thanking God and the benefactor, to an uncontrolled explicative that you didn’t mean for your mom to hear.
My OMG moment came at the age of 20. I had gone to europe with my college choir, and upon my return my mom met me at the airport. As we walked through the parking lot, I could not located her reliable old green Ford and my bags were getting heavy. She suddenly stopped behind a little gold car and said “here it is!” My eyes nearly popped out of my head, and I had to cover my mouth so she wouldn’t hit me in it, as I gazed upon a brand new Plymouth Gold Duster. My first car. I screamed, I cried, and hugged her all at once. It was truly a moment I will never forget.
I was reminded of that moment yesterday, when my son presented my eleven year old grand-daughter with her first cell phone. She was sitting in the back seat of my car, and needless to say, I was glad we were not riding in a convertible. I do believe she would have jumped right out of the car. This was definitely her OMG moment, one that she will remember the rest of her life. As we traveled down the hot streets of Brooklyn, she regaled us with: “OMG, it has a stylus just what I wanted, OMG it has a touch screen”, and “OMG it’s an Android, ” not to mention that she mentioned about one hundred, eleven year olds, that she would be adding to her phonebook. I smiled to see her so happy, but before we parted for the day, I reminded her of a saying I originated when her dad and aunt were small. ” Good girls/boys get everything, and bad girls/boys get nothing” Of course there were qualifications to that statement, I explained that if they wanted a pony, or a car at ten years old these things were not going to happen. However as long as they did what was expected, their best in school, and tried not to be monsters at home, their dad and I would do everything in our power to make their lives happy. I remember it took awhile for this to sink in, especially with my son, but once they realized that we were serious it was a system that worked well in our house. My grand-daughter was already familiar with the saying, because my son had already passed on these words of wisdom to the next generation.
The ah-ha moments, the OMG moments, the once in a lifetime opportunities, they are what memories are made of.

When was the last time you gave someone an ah-ha, or OMG moment? These special moments benefit not only the receiver, but the giver as well. What could be better.

P.S.

A definite OMG moment. As a nation we should all be proud.

I Live In A Mad World-PARENTS!, The Most Important School Supply

•July 16, 2012 • 485 Comments

In just a few weeks, parents will be shopping for back to school supplies for their young scholars. Most will focus on the correct notebooks, pens pencils, lunch boxes etc. Most will not realize the best asset is a concerned, vocal parent advocate. I would like to write a little about one experience with my daughter and our school district, but first, a little background on the school district in which I live.

I live in a school district that is slowly progressive.   In the 1960’s the district did not take integration well. There were three elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school. One elementary was located in the African-American section of the district and the other two in the Caucasian section of the district. Children went to the elementary school near their homes and came together in middle school and high school. When forced integration came the district tried to entice integration by changing the dimensions of the elementary schools  The results were dismal, Caucasian parents refused to send their children to the grades located in the  African-American part of the district.  The district eventually closed the African-American school, and bussed the African-American students to the other two elementary school. That is the district I found when I moved into the area.

Subtle racism continued. In middle school the children were tracked according to ability. Honors, Academic, and Remedial. Personally I am all for this system, it allows each child to function at their own level and speed. It allow the bright children to soar, and the academically challenged to get the help they need to soar. I speak not only as a parent, but as an educator with thirty-five years in “the system”.  However in our district as the level of achievement by class went down, the number of none Caucasian children went up. This brings me to the point of my story.

At the end of grade 7 my daughter was inducted into the National Junior Honor Society.  Her mathematics teacher called me and informed me that she had recommended my daughter for Honors math in grade 8. She was also recommended for Honors science.  In these honors classes she would be able to take two years of the subject in one year, and take the state regents test at the end of the 8th grade for high school credit. My daughter and I discussed the situation, and she decided that she would like to try the math class, ( she always excelled in math), but would rather stay in academic science.  Her father and I consented to both decisions. In September on the first day of school she came home with her program card, she had no honors classes. Her previous math teacher was unavailable due to maternity leave.  I sent her to school the next day with a letter explaining that she should be in honors math. I got no response for two days. Illness prevented me from going to school, so I asked my husband to speak with the guidance counselor. My husband came home and told me the guidance counselor informed him that the honors math classes were all full, and he would be unable to change my daughters class. Now I came from a background where I was the only child in my neighborhood to attend an elementary school outside my district because my mother sought out the best school, with the best programs, and fought two school districts until I was permitted to attend a school outside of my district. I was not going to take the answer of this guidance counselor without a fight. I called the principal of the school and told him that I was prepared to go up the ladder further if need be. Twenty-four hours later my daughter was changed to honors math. The guidance counselor inform both of us that he didn’t think she would succeed because she had not had honors math in grade 7 and she had missed too much work. I informed him to let me worry about that. At the end of grade 8, my daughter not only passed the state test, she passed it with 94%. She got her high school credit, and her only regret was not taking honors science also. Now the world would not have stopped had my daughter taken academic math, but she would not have been challenged to do her best. I am certain there would not have been a problem had she not been African-American. The district eventually did away with the tracking system which in my opinion put all of the students at a loss. Again I am not opposed to the system, just the way it was managed in this school district. I shutter to think how many other children that guidance counselor succeeded in discouraging because no one spoke up for them.

To this day this subtle racism continues. Two years ago, this district chose an African-American student for the valedictorian of the senior high school class. They had no choice, this young lady had the highest average. However such a stink was raised in the district, that for the first time in the history of the district to my knowledge a second valedictorian was chosen and that year there were two. The real valedictorian and her parents were most unhappy, this decision took away from the achievement and joy of the event.

I write this blog to be informative, entertaining, and thought-provoking. With that in mind.  Parents, and grandparents, the most important thing you can do to help your child in school is to be there and be visible. I don’t mean just at home. Introduce yourself to your child’s teacher in the beginning of the school year. Let him/her know your child has a support system at home, distinguish your child from the many others in class. Do the same thing for the principal,  the assistant principal, and the guidance counselor. Make your child a person, not a number. Second, attend PTA  meetings, this gives you a voice in your district. Many years ago in  a Brooklyn middle school they had a program called SP. A child in a SP class, could achieve three grades in two years. Naturally you would expect only the brightest children were chosen for the SP program. I can’t tell you how many children were switched into the SP program because of who their parents were instead of their academic prowess. But I can tell you the number was significant. I do not recommend using your voice to accelerate your child in school unless the child truly deserves it, and wants it. My daughter wouldn’t have had a chance in honors math if I had not spoken up for her. School districts from New York to California are seeking the magic solution to improve “the system”. The best asset a child can have in school is not the prettiest book bag, the latest sneakers, the most recent Ipad, or the finest clothes. The best asset is a concerned, vocal parent advocateUse your Parent Power for your most precious asset, your child.

 

Please check out Rag Doll Tales an excellent new book for the child in your life. Information available on the blog Rag Doll Tales-scribe312.wordpress.com

Thank you.

I Live In A Madhouse-How the Madhouse Began.

•July 8, 2012 • 21 Comments

Our Wedding

Greetings, Today is our anniversary, and I started thinking, perhaps some of you who have been reading my blogs wonder how our Madhouse began. So, Once upon a time….The good Lord above was definitely the matchmaker for this union. My hubby and I were, are, and always will be total opposites, but today on our 35 anniversary, I am proud to say we have made it work. He was raised one of ten children, I was an only child. He was born and raised in Haiti. I was born in Manhattan, and raised in Queens. He was and is thin. I was and am fat. He speaks French, I speak only English. He was catholic. I was protestant. He majored in math. I majored in music. He was  an extrovert, I was an introvert. The list goes on and on. It is a wonder we even spoke to each other.We met at work, both faceless people you pass in the hallway of any crowded New York City middle school. Ah, but one day one faceless body, spoke to the other faceless body. Now my faceless body was usually friendly to all who passed it, and usually had a “hello” to say back. However in this instance, the other faceless body had an accent that was difficult to understand, so I smiled, nodded my head, and walked away. This happened a few times, and each time my response was the same. Then one day he said he would walk me to my classroom. Trying to discourage him, I told him I was going to the fourth floor. (Nobody likes a walk up four flights of stairs if they don’t have to do it.) The joke was on  me, his classroom was on the fourth floor. From that point on, I decided it was best to be truthful. At our next encounter I sat down and listened. I mean really listened to what is had to say past hello. I found that if I really listened, my American ears got past his accent and I could understand most of what he was saying. That as they say, was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

At the end of the school year, his visa expired and he returned to Haiti. Thus started the second phase of our relationship. I ran up three hundred-dollar phone bills, and spent Christmas in Haiti. The weather was beautiful, the stars were shinning, and all was well. The following summer I returned with my parents and we were married. I spent the next year vacationing in Haiti, and looking at apartments and houses. I found a quaint little house in Queens and by the next summer my husband joined me once again. Our family grew.  In the space of four years, I went from being a single woman, to a married woman, to the mother of  two.  A boy of five and a baby girl. Thus the Mad House Began.

The Family

Over the next thirty-five years, hubby finished grad school, children grew up, I matured, parents passed away and life moved on. We traded our quaint little house in Queens for a larger family house in Nassau county. My son has contributed two grand children to the family, so the Mad House will continue. And it all started with a little boy who ran barefoot and played soccer  in Haiti and a little girl who sold girl scout cookies, and took piano lessons with a teacher around the corner. They grew up over two thousand miles apart, in two  different cultures  without even a common language to bring them together. And as most stories end they continue to live happily ever after.  Now if that was not the hand of God, I don’t know what is.

I Live In A Madhouse-Ma and Pa Take a Trip

•July 3, 2012 • 824 Comments

Ma and Pa do cruising

Summer brings plans of travel, and this summer was no exception. Although we are retired and can travel anytime of the year, I guess the teacher in us looks forward to the summer months. For the past seven months we planned a transatlantic cruise. We had been on several cruises in the past, and enjoyed every one. However this time we decided to try a cruise line we had not experienced before. This particular cruise line is British and noted for a high-class clientele.  Definitely a change for us regular folks who frequent Walmart, and Target,  but we wanted to experience something different. I expected an older crowd, probably 50 plus. I didn’t mind that because I thought we would fit right in. I had visions of hearing aid and pace maker charging stations. Signs that say Park you walker, rollator, or wheelchair here, and automatic denture cleaners in the rest rooms.  I discouraged my daughter from coming, telling her there would be no-one her age, and that she would probably be bored to tears. Instead I saw families, children, teen, and seniors who were still seeking the gusto in life. Good for them. However before we could experience any of my visions we had to get  to Southhampton, UK.We did everything right. We made our arrangements seven months in advance. We made our final payment three weeks before it was due. We did online check-in 17 hours before flight time. We even paid for an extra bag online leaving nothing to chance. Nothing, absolutely nothing, could go wrong. Wrong, Wrong, Wrong!

We arrived at the airport three hours early just as our instructions indicated. We were told that our 10:20 flight would not leave until 12:30. Not a good thing because we had bus transportation waiting to take us to the ship. We tried in vain to call London and see if alternate transportation would be available. We tried email, I think I would have tried smoke signals if I thought the wind would hold up. We finally boarded the plane at 2:30 AM. Now remember this was supposed to be a 10:20 flight. Thoughts of getting the next flight back because we missed our connection filled my mind.  We got the flight crew involved. They made an announcement that if anyone needed help, they would help, so we reached out. Even they were stumped as to what to do, but they took our problem all the way to the captain, who faxed the cruise line from the cockpit. One of the stewards even used his private phone to try to find us answers. Kudos to the staff of Virgin Atlantic.  (Boo, for making us miss our bus connection and the four hour delay.) The cruise line gave us a whole 15 minutes grace, no one from the bus company could be reached. A taxi was regarded as our only hope. We deplaned, made our way to the cab stand, told them our problem and was laughed off the platform with a British accent. It seems the trip we needed took at least one and a half to two hours, and we stood with barely an hour to spare, not to mention the price was almost as much as the trip itself. My hubby, not to be daunted, went down the cab line in search a nut, or a miracle worker. He found one. I believe the cab driver he found must have done training at the Indy 500. For the first time in my life I put a seat belt on in the back seat. I decided it was better to close my eyes because most of the time I was praying anyway.  Whether the cab driver was an angel from God, or an escaped rode maniac we will  never know, but he pulled up to the terminal with 30 seconds to spare. My husband sprinted into the terminal, told me to tip the man $50.00, and luggage started flying everywhere. After the fare had been paid, I offered the cab driver my husbands generous tip. The driver only saw the 5, thought is was $5.00 and told me thank you, but it would be too much trouble to change $5.00 into British pounds. Just when I was about to put the money back into my wallet, he saw the other zero. His hand moved with the speed of lightning and I do believe I got a bill burn on my hand. At the same time he explained he could change a fifty into pounds and was very thankful. The British must have an amazing money system.

During the week, we rubbed elbows with the upper crust. We were delighted to find that some of the crustier ones were club members. We met a couple from the Midwest, one was a principal, and the other a retired principal. They reveled us with their exploits from all over the world. They were old hands at this cruise, this was their fourth trip. We met a lady, who told us it was her second week on this cruise. Knowing what one week cost, my hat was definitely off to her bank account. Our first night at dinner we were surprised with an anniversary cake and the waiters sang to us. It was a lovely surprise for our thirty-fifth anniversary which was actually a week away but we didn’t tell that. We experienced high tea, and dancing, the music was exquisite, and I found I have a desire for scones. They were delicious. I found Caribbean music played by the pool while my hubby stayed in our stateroom to watch MSNBC.  ( Who goes on a cruise to stay in the stateroom and watch MSNBC?) He however discovered the joy of ballroom dancing, taking daily lessons, and completely enjoying the experience. My passion was Karaoke, it was great when people recognized me, ( which was not hard to do, a black lady with a red rollator on a ship with mostly non black people) and complimented me on my efforts. I didn’t participate in the weekly talent show but I did learn that no matter what ship you are on, from Carnival to Cunard the Gee I Wish I Had Talent shine in all their glory. We saw people from 8-80 who never did find the correct key to sing. The 8-year-old and the 80 year olds I can excuse because of age, but the rest were strictly, OMG!  We never got the chance to take advantage of our balcony. It rained so much we could have taken swimming lessons on  it.  We left New York with 90 degree weather and had to buy jackets on the ship. Despite this, we had a marvelous time. In another two or three years we would like to do it again, if God blesses us with good health, but this time we would like to  tour Paris and London while we are on that side of the water. In the meantime: Life is to live, so go for the gusto. Live long and prosper. God bless.

If you enjoyed this posting, please take a moment to browse my other blog: The View From My Head-I Too Have Been To The Mountain Top, @ vonniesmuse.wordpress.com.

 

Please check out Rag Doll Tales an excellent new book for the child in your life. Information available on the blog Rag Doll Tales-scribe312.wordpress.com

I Live in a Madhouse- Our Furry friends

•June 11, 2012 • 376 Comments

Michaela “KK” Augustin

Greetings,  I have introduced you to my family, my husband, my son, my daughter. I hope this journey through my family has been a pleasant trip. Now for the final chapter, Our Furry friends.There are  three kinds of families in this world, the kind that likes dogs, the kind that likes cats, and the kind that likes all other kinds of pet, ie. goldfish, hamsters, etc. My family falls into the dog variety. Sometime before the age of five my dad tried a couple of time to give me  a dog. I don’t know his reasons, perhaps he felt an only child needed  a playmate, or maybe the dog was to be a diversion to keep me out of his hair. Whatever the  reason, each time he brought home a dog, my mom called the pound to pick it up, and by the time he got home from work, it was gone.  On my fifth birthday, another dog arrived. This time a mixed breed puppy in a shoe box. My dad was a large, but quiet man who seldom asserted his authority, but I was told years later, that this time he took my mom aside and said four words. ” The Dog Is Staying!”  I was sixteen when the dog, named Prince, passed away. You would have thought I  had lost a member of my family. That dog and my Aunt Helen, who lived with us, taught me many valuable lessons. First, you don’t pull a dogs ears when Aunt Helen is around because you will get your ears pulled in return. Second, never put a rubber band around a dog’s foot and forget about it. Now,  I was not a heart less child, and did not do these things to be mean, but just a thoughtless  brat a times who like most children did not think! Having a pet taught me to respect the feelings of all livings things, a lesson I wanted to pass on to my own children, thus we became a dog  family.

When my son came to live with us, there was already a dog in place. Prince #4, a German Shepard who was not used to children. My son learned this the hard way when he tried to pull his tail, and the dog snapped at him. Although he was not hurt the experience scared me to death. As fate would have it, the dog who was old and set in his ways decided our home was not the place for him anymore. He passed away shortly after this happened. It was a mixed blessing, because I did not want my son in any danger, his welfare was my first concern, but I loved that dog.  Our household went through several dogs after that. There was Dusty, who attached himself to my son, but would never make a good watch dog, Dusty was the kind of dog that would hide under the bed if a burglar came into the house. We put Dusty back up for adoption partially because Max entered our  lives. Max came to us from the North Shore Animal shelter, a beautiful mixed breed husky, who was psychotic. My first sign that the dog had a problem came when we brought him home after he was neutered.  He was in the back of the van, and with no apparent warning he jumped at my daughter. I thought, ” maybe the dog is still in pain” and gave him the benefit of the doubt. A few week later we were making cookies in the kitchen, and he had a sudden attack again. Had he not been confined, my daughter could have been seriously hurt. He left the house that very night. Then came Kelly. Kelly should have been named Houdini because except for a closed-door, she could get out of any confinement known to man. We bought a training cage.  We put her in our fenced back yard. We tied her up in our fenced in back yard.  We had a kennel built-in our fenced in back yard, I even showed the dog to  the man who built the kennel before he built it, so that he would see what he was up against. After she broke out for the second time, he gave up and refused to try to fix it again. Many times I would come home from work to find Kelly sitting on the front step, or in the picture window, garbage all over the kitchen floor, or the house in general disarray. I even pulled out all the stops and sent Kelly to school for two weeks.  When the training period was complete we came to pick her up. She went through her training like a pro. Sitting, staying, walking without a leash, all her commands were executed flawlessly. We left smiling with a well-trained dog. The next day the drugs wore off and Kelly was back to her old self.  Despite her antics, Kelly had a special place in our family. Just before I retired, I would stroke her head and tell her soon it would be just her and me in the house all day, and we would spend our retirement together. Alas, that was not to be, Kelly passed away one month before my retirement after spending  14 years with us. We all mourned her, and I  vowed we would not have another dog. After all my daughter was grown now, and my son was on his own.  Then…

I got an email, with a picture. My daughter was visiting a friend who had this cute little puppy. I said “NO!” and considered the case closed. Not to be dissuaded, my daughter did the unthinkable, she enlisted the help of her daddy. Next thing I knew her car pulled into our driveway with a small kennel in the back. Michaela, also know as KK, wormed her was into our home, and into my heart. She greets me every morning with an excited wiggle and a tail wag. Of course I realize it’s only because she has to go to the bathroom, but it makes me feel good that all of that excitement is for me. She is my companion when my hubby goes to work, she is special, and was definitely sent here for a purpose. Despite my misgivings, she has found a home, and I have found a friend.

God works in mysterious ways, even when is comes to a small dog, an old woman, and happiness.

If you enjoyed this posting, please take a moment to browse my other blog: The View From My Head-I Too Have Been To The Mountain Top, and Cassandra ( suitable for children) @scribe1295.wordpress.com)

I Live in a Madhouse-My Silent Voice

•June 5, 2012 • 285 Comments

The St. John’s Chancel Choir

As a child growing up, church was not an option. However mom didn’t go overboard, she allowed me to choose either church or Sunday school. Most times I chose church because I loved the music. Our church had two choirs that sang every Sunday. The Gospel choir and the Senior choir. I loved to sit in the balcony and tap my foot to the pulsating rhythms of the gospel renditions. I had memorized every note, and would never miss a word with the soloist. However, unlike most young people I also looked forward to the Senior choir.  The repertoire of the Senior choir was a bit more sophisticated, and the director weekly challenged forty average musicians with  selections from the old masters. Every director has at least one person in the choir that they can count upon to pull a difficult selection together. In the Senior choir, this person was Miss. Hanna. Almost every Sunday, Miss. Hanna would step forward, tilt her nose slightly upward, and enthrall me with her wonderful soprano voice. I watched enchanted; her mouth formed perfect Oo’s and Ah’s as she glided up and down scales and landed precisely on pitch every time. I was sure angels in heaven must have sounded a little like Miss. Hanna. Most of the time, at the conclusion of her rendition, the congregation would applaud or shout AMEN! and she would walk stately back to her seat.

At the age of 12 I joined the Young People’s choir. Although I had taken piano lessons for several  years, I now found out through my church and school choir directors that I had a voice. This was quite a revelation to me. I was no Miss. Hanna, but I could carry a tune fairly well, and was chosen for a solo at church. I practiced, and practiced, and on the evening of my debut we went to visit another church. I stepped up to the microphone, tilted my nose slightly, and opened my mouth.  The sound that returned quivered, and the more it quivered, the more nervous I became. The sound was a whispered, quivering, warble, and I was devastated. Adults were kind, but my peers let me know how awful my attempts were. I was overweight, and extremely shy, this latest failure insured my retreat behind the piano for any future musical expression until college.

In college I majored in music, was selected for the college choir, the college church choir, and one of the greatest privileges of my young life, the college concert choir. The concert choir traveled all over the United States, and even went to Scandinavia during my matriculation. During my college career, I stood in awe of my peers who were chosen for solos or small groups. I never expected such accolades nor did I seek them. I was content and happy just to be part of the group. My senior year I was chosen for a solo. We were going to give a concert in the famed Carnegie Hall, and I was to be part of a quartet. New York was my hometown, and I was sure my mom would have everyone she knew in the audience. As fate would have it, we went to a recording session before the tour, and I missed a cue from the director. He was not one to forgive, and I was replaced before the tour. After graduation, I was now convinced that my place in music was behind the instrument or as the director of my junior high school students. Except for a very few opportunities to help the choirs I directed,  my solo voice remained silent for the next thirty years.

In the spring of 2003, my doctor discovered cancer. Fortunately, it was in the early stages, and I was expected to make a complete recovery. Like most people facing an uncertain future, I too made promises to God. I promised upon recovery, to try to use all of my gifts to the best of my ability. I joined a church, and it’s Chanel choir. The members made me feel welcome from the first rehearsal, and the choir director was truly an inspiration. I felt at home, and was quite happy to be a member of the choir. About the third week into my new endeavor the director, a wonderful person, asked me to look at a solo. I figured I might as well get this over with, and explained to her that I did not do solos. I thought that would be the end of it, but she did the unthinkable! She asked “Why“? Ok, I let her know my horrible secret.” Everytime I have tried, I mess up”. There I said it, now she knows, and that will be the end of it. Her answer was just three little words, in a very pleasant voice she smiled and said, ” Get Over It.”. Get over it! That was not was I was expecting. She can’t be serious, I thought, but just in case she was, I’d better look at that solo. In the back of my mind was the promise I had made to God, however , all of the doubts from my previous experiences flooded my mind. My true voice had been silent for over thirty years, but I had a promise to keep.

On the last Sunday in June,  2004, I came forth, tilted my nose slightly upward, stood a little in the corner, ( the director and I had a silent discussion about my placement) and began to fulfill my promise. At the conclusion of the song, the choir received a hearty applause. I realized the true meaning of the  saying ” If God brings you to it, he will bring you through it”.  I still have my childhood insecurities, but with the help of a wonderful director, and the support of the entire Chancel choir, I strive to overcome. Miss. Hanna will never know her influence upon a young girl over fifty years ago, but I hope she would be proud

It is my fondest hope that this true story will inspire someone to step out of their box. I was over fifty years old when this revelation occurred. God is no respecter of persons. Live your life to the fullest, let go, and let God. May everyone reading this be blessed.

 

If you enjoyed this posting, please take a moment to browse my other blog: The View From My Head-I Too Have Been To The Mountain Top, and Cassandra ( suitable for children) @scribe1295.wordpress.com)

I Live in a Madhouse-Me

•May 28, 2012 • 306 Comments

I have introduced you to my family, My son who spoke no english, my daughter who hates to iron, my husband who died and lived to tell it. Now there is one more person in our family to explore….ME.

I belong to that under-appreciated group of people who don’t fit into a size 2. I vowed at an early age that marriage and children were not for me. I had a good job, two cars, Italian knit suits, a lovely home with my parents, and a very select group of close friends. My life was complete, or so I thought. One day I was single and complete, and the next day, I had a husband, a son, and a daughter within a three-year span. In a flash I went from cooking for one, to raising a family, and a dog. I quickly learned that children don’t come with a manual, and neither do husbands. I was the only Aquarius, floating in a sea of Libras, At one time we even had a dog born under the sign of Libra. I stumbled and prayed my way through life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness one day at a time. I found many gifts that were given to me, however some I did not use until very late in life. I have always known how to drive a car, never took a lesson, just took my dads keys one day and took off. I have been driving ever since. My mother gave me heck, but secretly I believe she was proud. I have known since the 4th grade that I would be a teacher. Only the type of teacher changed. I wanted to be a special education teacher, because in my innocence, I thought anyone can teach normal children, I believe I had a gift to teach special children. That idea changed when the college I wanted to attend didn’t off a special education program, so I switched to music, and the rest is history. As a music teacher, I learned that all children are special in one way or another. I was a piano major, because I thought when it comes to performing I could get through it if a piano was between me and the audience. In retrospect, I wish I had majored in voice, but the thought of standing in front of the audience and singing terrified me, and still does.  A very wonderful choir director helped me to stand in front of that audience and perform vocally, but this did not come until late in life, and is the subject for another blog.

Over the years I have learned that I will never be the Life of the Party, and that  is ok. I will never be that size 2, and that’s ok. There are life lessons that I am still learning, and will continue to learn. I have learned that God is in control, and that I am along for the ride.

Next week I invite you to read How I Found My Voice-an old age discovery. Until then, be blessed.

If you enjoyed this posting, please take a moment to browse my other blog: The View From My Head-I Too Have Been To The Mountain Top, and Cassandra ( suitable for children) @scribe1295.wordpress.com)