Stephenville Empire-Tribune, May 2018
I’ve always loved to sing. I would find myself singing everywhere—the shower, the car, the laundry room—always harmonizing, a perfect alto to any soprano. It was my artistic contribution to my family of artistic siblings. My sister and I brought tears to many eyes with a harmony so pure; it seemed to vibrate in the air...before my fall.
I slipped on black ice a few years back. The sun blazing after an ice storm, camouflaged the icy patch in a shaded parking lot. I was knocked out, taken to the hospital by ambulance and suffered from true vertigo, not at all like what Jimmy Stewart portrayed in the Hitchcock film, Vertigo, for a year or so afterwards. As I began the slow road to recovery, it dawned on me that I could not “hear the music” anymore, a fact that was both devastating and perplexing.
Having nothing to contribute at rare family gatherings, guitars always coming out after a shared meal, I shrugged it off and awkwardly but joyfully watched our family’s newest generations of musical artists perform. So much talent—composers, musicians and singers—in our family; I feel like I have lost my way.
It has always been in the back of my mind to write a book comprised of stories, some funny—some sad, of my childhood memories and our numerous moves, usually living in sketchy areas and on food stamps at one point, brought on by my dad’s “a rolling stone gathers no moss” philosophy.
I started a few times, but the writing just never flowed until last month, when a miracle occurred. As recommended by my daughter, I took melatonin to help me sleep just before bed, forgetting about the vivid dreams and nightmares it previously induced in me. I slept soundly but just on the edge of waking had an emotional dream I tried to express to my husband but couldn’t get out as tears flowed.
He had to get up and shower for work immediately following my tearful explanation so, pulling out my phone; I opened a doc file and began to type. The words poured out of me in one continuous flow to the point that I later owed my husband an apology for the curt “sshh" I directed at him when he asked, “Do you want coffee?”
It was a lovely short story (Star of the Show) that I submitted to The New Yorker Magazine at the urging of my husband. “It was worth the sshh,” he said. My heart has been opened and I can’t stop the words from flowing. This will be my artistic contribution to my family, memorializing the events that made us the strong people we are today.
I am reminded of the adage that rings true, “When God closes a door, He opens a window.”
By Lisa H. Owens
Read "Star of the Show."