Evelyne died when she was five. There in the August cornfield with open blue skies above, her life ended. She was on her back, trying to catch her breath. Each short gasp bringing in the pungent smells of fear, dirt and him. Evelyne struggled as he easily pinned her tiny body between the corn stocks with his teenage frame. She wanted her mother. She wanted him to get off. Her cries were silent and not heard. Not by anyone. Not even the crows casting shadows over them as they scavenged for food.
“Don’t tell your mother, or she’ll spank you hard,” he said zipping up his Levi’s. Evelyne could still hear the sound of the stalks swishing and crackling as he walked away pushing them aside. She lay there in her rumpled play dress, sobbing in fear until his steps faded away and only silence was heard. It ends there. That’s all she ever would remember of that summer’s day while playing hide-and-seek with her cousins on Grandpa’s farm, and life as any little girl should be allowed to have, well, for Evelyne, it disappeared when she was five. I am Evelyne.
When we have children we hope for the best for them, but truly, even with a crystal ball, we don’t know what lies ahead for them.
Once they leave the nest, they are on their own to chart their own path. We, as parents, just hope their journey is smooth without too many downdrafts and that their flight will lead them to a fulfilling life.
In this blog I am sharing with you a recent conversation I had with my singer/ songwriter son, Emerson Hart, lead singer of the 2x nominated and Platinum awarded alternative rock band, Tonic.
His first album, LEMON PARADE, had 5 top ten BILLBOARD HITS, one of which stayed on the top of the charts and became the most played song on rock radio that year, “If You Could Only See The Way She Loves Me.”
We talk about his beginnings and what it is like to be a a songwriter/singer and musician. I can’t use his music in my videos because of publishing and record company rights shared with him. I have posted below the video he speak’s about and that he filmed in London when Princess Diana died.
Join my conversation with a singer and songwriter on his creative process, his solo career vs Tonic and what is in store for 2019.
The magazine TOWN AND COUNTRY was my bible as a teen while growing up in a gritty steel town in the Ohio River. I saved all month and I couldn’t wait for each new issue to arrive at McNoltie’s Confectionery.
I used to dream over the glossy pages of beautiful people, smiling behind their big sunglasses while on their boats or at a glitzy gala. Oh, that was the life for me. I just couldn’t wait to grow up and have that life.
I would sometimes cut out images from the pages and pinned them on my watermelon colored cork Dream Board hanging in my bedroom. I figured if I dreamed enough about that life, I could make my fantasy come true. I could become rich and famous just like them.
Anything. I would do almost anything to fly away from my current steel town existence to something bigger. I deserved to have something better someday. I would dream so hard I would make it come true.
Sixty years later as I look back on my life, most of it did come true. I have been successful in my own right. I have rubbed shoulders with both the famous and richer. Am I happy? Yes, for the most part. I have had lots of valleys on my journey, but I have always been able to see the sunshine when there were dark clouds.
Are the smiling faces of the rich and famous happy? Well, not always. My teenage fantasy was just that – a fantasy.
The truth is that when I grew up I realized that what really matters are people and our relationships. Those are the million dollar gifts in life. Those are what make us rich and happy.
Did you ever think that maybe the music that we have been exposed to by our parents as children has a great deal of importance in our formative recipe as to who we are today?
I recently did a YouTube video about my musical memories and how important they are to me. I was reminded by one of my fellow YouTube creators about music that her mother and father liked.
That conversation brought me back to a time that I had almost forgotten. My mother loved the music of Hoagy Carmichael. I can remember her playing his song, Stardust, over and over again. Every time it came up on our old wooden radio she would stop what she was doing and stand there living her personal Stardust dream. I was too young to understand it all, but now I wish in adulthood I would have asked her sometime during her ninety-two years just what that dream was. Mother’s music when I was a child resonated with me and I felt so it deeply in my heart because I loved her.
When I was about 12 years old for Christmas I found a music box that played Stardust. Every penny that I saved for Christmas that year went to buy that special jewelry box for her.
Throughout her life mother kept all of her precious jewelry in that box and I always knew when she was taking something out when the tinkling sound could be heard throughout the house.
When mother died and we were packing and sorting her possessions I kept two things; her purse that was filled with personal items and that music box.
Eventually, sometime when I was in my decoupage period I decided to decoupage the faded outside of the music box. Looking at it now, I’m not too sure it was the right decision, but it still plays.
Today I took mother’s music box out from my shelf in my closet. I gently gave the stem a few winds, just to listen to a few notes and it slowly plucked out the familiar tune. Next, I’m going to place my jewelry inside it’s empty faded velvet partitions. Then I will wind it fully and put it where I can look at it every day so that I can be reminded of my mother and the music that has shaped my life. I will remember through her music box the beginning if my own childhood dreams choreographed by Hoagy Carmichael.
(Author’s note: If your soul is rooted in music as deeply as mine, grab your earphones and reading glasses, if needed, and let me transport you with me to places in my past.)
“ I believe in teleportation and time travel,” he said taking a sip of his Old Fashioned. It was Friday and we were at a speakeasy watching bluegrass. I wasn’t sure I heard him correctly.
“ Not in the sensational way, mind you. But in the way a waft of a certain perfume can take you back to childhood, or a song can being back a flurry of feelings you felt long ago. Isn’t it strange and wonderful how our senses can give us context of the present, but transport us to the past?”
He whispered to the bartender who came back moments later with a mint julep identical to the one he introduced me to when we first met….orange twist and all.
“Here. Close your eyes and take a sip of this.
Tell me…..where does it take you?
Aromas and music are the two triggers that can transport me back in time. Big band music takes me back to my early childhood and our Sunday family outings to The Lotus Restaurant in Washington, DC.
Rock and roll and the music of the 50’s bring me back to my high school days when we wore pony tails and bobby socks and the worst thing the boys could do was smoke behind the building or drink beer in the coal pits.
Georgetown and great jazz wisk me back to my college years where we would spend our nights listening to Mose Allison or Dave Brubeck. I can still smell the mixture of cigarette smoke and scotch that filled the crowded clubs lining the narrow streets in Georgetown.
My child rearing years and the small tube radio that I always had on in the kitchen comes to my mind every time I hear Billy Joel and his romantic take on life. I was always dreaming through my humdrum life while being transported to somewhere beyond that kitchen and piles of dirty laundry by Billy.
Now that I’m older and have Alexa in my life, I can be transported to any era of my life by just asking. Transporting has never been easier!
I know it’s much more difficult to write about ones life than it is to pen a novel. The latter is fantasy, make believe. Journeys you take in your mind that release you from your own reality.
Facing the truth in front of your typewriter is another story. Sometimes is extremely painful to write about ones own life’s reality. Those events are never erased, but lived over and over again. Pages ripped from your past that come back to haunt you and resurface things that you had hope were buried so deep that they would never resurface.
It’s hard to be a writer. It’s hard to write about the truth.
My Mother always wore a hat when she went out of the house. Sometimes she even designed and made her own. Maybe as a child my always seeing her look so beautiful in hats…she has passed on her love of hats to me.
The reality is that I grew up in a generation where both women and men wore hats. I even got a new Easter bonnet every year to top off my new outfit. I think that hats were always a part of my dress up life way into the sixties when bouffant hair and French twist hair made it impossible to wear a hat without ruining your hairdo.
My father used to wear a top hat on formal occasions. (Imagine that!) He wore a smart Fedora or Homburg; 1940s men were nothing without a hat. Popular men’s 1940s hats were the Fedora, Trilby, Homburg. A Chesterfield coat, suit and shoes were always finished off with a hat whenever my father left the house.
Honestly, I really miss those days of hats, but in spite of the rest of the world and trends, I still wear hats. What can I say, I just love hats!
Richard Branson, CEO AND FOUNDER of Virgin Group recently posted in a blog:
“Dreaming is one of humanity’s greatest gifts. It champions aspiration, spurs innovation, leads to change and propels us forward. In a world without dreams, there would be no adventure, no moon landing, no female CEOs, no civil rights. What a half-lived and tragic existence we would have. We should all dream big, and encourage others to do so, too.”
This perspective has been my mantra since I was a teen creating a ‘dream-memory’ board in my bedroom tacking up pictures of things I wanted to happen in my life. Even then I realized that these life events would not just appear like magic. I knew I would have to work hard toward my goals, but those pictures gave me a structure to my dreams and gave me focus.
My life has had some valleys that I didn’t ask for, side roads that were big detours and extra high mountains I was forced to climb, but those major dreams I had as a teen in her bedroom, mostly came true in varying degrees.
I have always encouraged my children to follow their dreams, think out of the box and when everyone tells you it can’t be done – prove them wrong by swimming against the tide and DO IT!
Those are the dreams that come true! When no one believes in your ideas, you believe in yourself and have the last laugh through your success. Nothing stops one’s dreams in their tracks like the power of fear and needing outside approval. If you don’t really believe in your dreams, they will evaporate in all the hot air around you.
My having lived almost eight decades, I can assure you that if you still have unrequited dreams, it is never too late to make them come true. Jump in will both feet and make them happen. The last laugh will be yours and the naysayers will be left with, “Gee, I should have done that!” Too bad. Their loss. You beat them to it!
As mothers, especially a single mother, as was dealt to me with the death of my husband, we sacrifice, nurture and work selflessly with both the heavy weight of parental responsibility and at the same time struggle to embrace the joys that come from raising humans we love like no other then, now and into eternity. Did I ever dream that when they were ready to leave the nest, it would be so far away?
Diaspora. How times have changed in just one generation. I often envy those families whose children are able to settle near them. It would be so nice to have family gatherings on the spur of the moment. Sunday dinners around the table with grandchildren and extended family members is but a dream for me. Sometimes that is a hard reality to face.
Fortunately for them, my children have had to move to where their interesting work took them. Unfortunately for me, they are all a long, long drive, or a winged trip away. It’s doable now, but the older I get I think about when it will not be so easy to hop a flight to be near those that I love so dearly.
I moved away from home when I went to college and never called my parents home mine again. I had dreams of my own that couldn’t be realized there. But, honestly, I never thought of how it must have affected my mother. Until lately. The shoe is on the other foot now for me and It doesn’t feel good at all. Isn’t the saying ‘just walk a mile in my shoes’? I now know how my mother must have felt when both of her children never permanently returned to her warm nest.
They say a good mother raises her children to be able to fly from the nest and spread their wings. Even though we know that is true and the unbridled happiness for our young is real, our mother-wing feathers are plucked bare, knowing life will never be the same.
In the end I have comfort in knowing that I have been blessed, that part of the way, they were to walk with me.
Life and thoughts and just about everything under the sun. The only order to it is life itself as lived. Natural chaos! I am married and have three grown children who are interested in breeding horses, flying and creating. My youngest is the lead singer/songwriter of the Grammy nominated band, Tonic, Emerson Hart. So here I am, wanting to read about you and at the same time bringing you along with me to mine. I hope you will find me just as interesting as I do you! Hop aboard.
Today while I was in my car waiting for the light to change, I saw a young woman struggling carrying an enamel bed headboard under one arm and the footboard under the other, sometimes switching it to her shoulders as she walked along the street. Just watching her struggle just for those few minutes moved me and made me think about how hard a woman’s life sometimes can be. When we find ourselves alone, women most often find solutions and we persevere no matter how hard the challenge, or stress on our lives and bodies.
I remember my grandmother who while raising her 10 children on a daily basis cooked for her entire family as well as the farmhands. As if that wasn’t enough, she made all of the clothes for her children, fed the chickens, planted and tended the vegetable garden, and gathered fresh eggs for morning breakfast.
She baked and cooked everything from scratch in her kitchen on a coal stove that she had to keep fired.
She used to scrub the wash on a washboard, stirred a hot cauldron of soapy water to get them clean and ironed the clothes with a heavy sad iron. She needed at least two irons on the go together for an effective system: one in use, and one re-heating. I remember the sound of the sizzle when she sprinkled a few drops of water on it to see if it was hot enough.
Through it all, my dear grandmother managed to have a smile on her face all day long. No wonder she and many other women of her era died in their fifties and sixties.
For too long we woman have a hard time sometimes saying ‘no’ to what is believed to be ‘our jobs’ as over- worked-solution-solving caretakers.
Now I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. Our families benefit from who we innately are and can do. I have to be honest with myself, although I am two generations away from my grandmother, I am guilty as charged and I’m not too sure I can ever change. It’s become too much a part of my DNA.