Yesterday was my birthday. I have always been honored to share this special date with my grandmother, Esther. My sister did a little math and we figured that she would have been 118 years old this year.
On my birthday, her birthday, we went to a special concert at the Edmonds Center for the Arts. But wait. Let’s go back in time.
Many years ago, my grandmother was a teacher at a school for the blind in Idaho, probably the Idaho School for the Deaf and Blind in Gooding. One of her pupils was Judy Collins’ father. This story has long been part of the fabric of our family’s lore.
Not quite as many years ago, my uncle went to a Judy Collins concert. He sent flowers and a note backstage. He shared this story. Ms. Collins came out on stage with one of the flowers in the neck of her guitar. This story is also part of the fabric of our family’s lore.
I’ve always thought of myself as a wisher, mostly. I wish I had the get up and go, the creativity – okay – just the guts – to send a famous person flowers and a card backstage. It’s just not something I’ve ever considered acting on, this kind of wish.
Well, this time… I did it. Figured out how and when to get them there and made a special trip to make it happen. What fun! Composing a note, I told the story once again, and thanked her for the gift of her music, which shaped my own.
I was sitting in the audience before the show when I heard my name and was called out of my seat with a birthday greeting by a woman who works at the center (I know her – it was actually her very own post highlighting the center’s updated website that led me to this concert).
Ms. Collins had gotten my flowers and note, she said, and though she couldn’t invite me backstage, she said it was really wonderful. I was stunned at the special attention, at how the story had made the rounds, they’d found out where I was sitting and found out from my card that it was my birthday, and acknowledged it personally. A wonderful gift.
The concert began. It was lovely, Passenger String Quartet (I missed their Grammy performance, did you catch it?!?) was fantastic, and so was Judy Collins. Midway through her performance, she began to tell the audience about a woman who wrote her a lovely card, and she told a story. Our family story. She talked about the school her father attended, and told how the teachers helped him, really helped the students so much. And then she asked if I was there.
“I’m here,” I said. And she thanked me, and my grandmother. On our birthday. Such a gift.