Even though the tickets were free, Todd didn’t want to go to the Barry Manilow concert. Wasn’t his favorite genre of music. Not that Barry Manilow is mine but I believe in embracing opportunities and seeing what the gift is. I did want to take someone who would appreciate his music. That would be my dear Aunt Dot- a lively babe at 80 who in the past few years enjoyed zip lining and sky diving. She practices that mantra, “If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space.” I like to think I might take after her in spirit. Her mother, my Grandmom Ross, lived to the ripe age of 102. She didn’t die of any illness. Just went to bed because she was merely tired and then didn’t get out of bed. Her grand kids and great-grand kids gathered round and climbed in with her and sang Bobby Vinton songs (another favorite) at the end together. What a way to exit this world.
My own mother, Grace would have enjoyed going to the Barry Manilow concert but she has been gone from this world for 25 years. (I like to think I DON’T take after her, health-wise). My friend, incidentally, gave the tickets away as Barry was a fav or HER mother and she recently died. She was afraid she would spend the whole concert crying. I did that anyway.
Aunt Dot was psyched and then so was I.
I should have braced myself right from the start when I ran into the guy I asked to the junior prom, a Sovereign Center employee. I had not seen him since high school.
Then, the girl two seats down from me, thought I Iooked familiar and we realized we knew multiple people from our past, cousins, best friends, etc.
The more we chatted, the more her sister, sitting next to me, put two and two together. She said, “I believe you worked in the Grace Mine with my ex husband.” When I was 21 years old, a succulent young co-ed, I worked 5 miles beneath the surface of the earth with 800 men and twelve women, to save money to go to professional art school.
“Married Harry!” as my father liked to refer to him, was the sexy married man I car-pooled with. I was speechless- for a moment. Thirty-six years of life have flowed over the dam and here I was, being reminded of my past, my youth, as I listened to Barry Manilow who sang about lost loves and memories and the past. Pretty appropriate.
Harry’s ex-wife and I got along famously and we all swayed together, my arm around my aunt’s waist, waving our glow sticks, getting teary eyed, thinking about how life comes around and how we are here for such a fleeting moment.
Then my children’s middle school principal goes by (and I was just writing about him in my new book- pretty weird!) and while I was exclaiming my surprise over seeing him and shouting his name, the woman on the other side of my aunt, realizes she knows him too- graduating from high school with him and hadn’t seen him in decades. Would never had recognized him had I not exclaimed out loud. They embraced. Wow.
When Barry sang the words to his famous song, “I write the words that make the whole sing” and the entire Sovereign Center sang along, it was magnificent. It is true. Barry said, “I know you- I was in your cars, the kitchen while you cooked, your bedroom.” He helped us through life. His lyrics, his songs put into words what we were feeling in our hearts. And he made us happy and he made us cry and he made us feel and he made us think, like I was doing all evening long at the concert – thinking of my own deceased mother and grandmother, and my aunt by my side- and the men from my past. And life felt so damn rich and precious and valuable. Who would think a night with Barry Manilow could do all this for me. But he did.