Thursday, January 28, 2010

Staying in touch

Sometimes, life is so hectic and painful it is hard to stay in touch. I am not a professional blogger although I would like to be one. I am truly just a sister among you. One who doesn’t have it together, weeps for her friends and family, dreams, hopes and prays for them, also. I found this article that I wrote some years back and felt led to post it today. It probably is way too personal and way to much information for some of y’all, but it sums up a lot and fills in some blanks. Don’t ever let Satan take the music out of your hearts:)

I’ve Got The Music In Me

Musings about A Boomer Woman’s Music
From the strands of “Shall We gather at the River” played by my grandmother on the piano at the little country church in Chattanooga Valley, Tenn. to “I Hope You Dance” a recent hit sung by Lee Ann Womack, music has always played a role in my life and the life of many “Boomer Women.”

I remember sitting in front of the little black and white television set, mesmerized by Elvis Presley swinging his hips on the Ed Sullivan show. Was he from the devil as some people tried to say, or just the handsomest person I had ever seen in my short life? “Whatever Will Be Will Be, Que Sera,” always in the background of my mind, I was drawn to those shows with music. Variety shows were very popular in the fifties and the Lennon sisters were a household word. As a little girl I would dress up in my swirly ballerina outfit (do you remember crinoline slips?) and sing and dance as I watched the small black and white television set. I had a song in my heart and no one was going to take it from me. Or were they?

Life happens. Not always happy. Stripped from my childhood home with my grandmother, and the sounds of “Amazing Grace” I remember my stepfather hollering out the door of our Florida home, “Donna Renee, shut up that singing!” That was not the only way he tried to take the music from me. When they put him in prison, the landlord kept our piano and the roots of music I learned from my grandmother seemed to vanish also. The little girl who by age five could play the piano by ear disappeared. Bravery to perform in front of people became nervous fear, and I trembled whenever I was called to do anything publicly.

Raising 4 children alone was hard for my Mama. Just 16 when I was born she was nearly a “Boomer Woman” herself. She loved to dance and I remember thinking what a pretty mom I had as she danced to “Be Bop A Lula,” “Cathy’s Clown” and “Great Balls of Fire.” We lived through American Bandstand, Dick Clark, Chubby Checker, Joey Dee and the Starlighters, “everybody do the twist.” And everybody did. We didn’t have much money but we could still dance and have fun.

“Make Me Your Baby” played on the radio as my boyfriend and I “made out” in the back seat of a car. I was supposed to be doing laundry at the Laundromat for my mother, and yes, the clothes were washing inside. He thought he was “The Leader of the Pack.” My boyfriend was so cute and virile; I didn’t think anything about him being eight years older than me. With the life I lived I always felt older than my age anyway. Taking care of my younger brothers and one sister was what I did when I wasn’t at school. This was the closet thing to a real date that I got to go on. Before they could sing the song, “Sixteen Candles,” I said, “I’m Gonna Get Married.”

He didn’t look like a pervert when I met him. But at age fifteen did I really know what a pervert would look like? Sure, I’d had my fair share of experiences; the stepfather who tried to rape me, my Mom’s boyfriends who wanted to kiss me, the experience at the park where someone came up behind me in the dark, threw me on the ground and only left when I (not knowing what else to do) bit his tongue as hard as I could. I ended up with bruised lips but I’m sure he wished he had never stuck his tongue in my mouth, uninvited.

But this one? Well built, dark and handsome, gee, he looked like Prince Charming to me. How was I to know that perverts sometimes come in pretty packages? Five years down the road, when the beginning of the “marriage from hell” came about, I realized my “Prince” was a pedophile. And even though my daughter begged me to forgive him and get help for her beloved daddy, no amount of counseling, Doctor’s visits, (where I was told to give him more sex) or love, was going to keep us together. Yes, Captain and Tennille had already sung that song by then.

The damage was done. I didn’t find out until I was in the midst of the divorce proceedings, that he had started her on the road to drugs. She is 42 years old now and has just begun to reclaim her life instead of staying on the addictive cycle he started her on. When I was getting the divorce my counsel didn’t advise me to bring charges but some years later, my daughter and I did help to put him in prison. Even though one of his favorite songs when we were dating in 1966 was “I Fought the Law and the Law Won,” he wasn’t singing now. And I didn’t need a song by Nazareth to tell me “Love Hurts.”

Or the Eagles to tell me he had “Lyin' Eyes.” I only wish I had listened seriously to Paul Simon as he sang “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” a few years back.

But God is good. To the strands of “Annie’s Song” I married “Bill” and “Don’t Go Breakin’ MY Heart” was my inner cry. He is truly my “Handy Man!” He gave me “Respect” and I reminded him often, “She Loves You.” He is my “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and “This Girl is a Woman Now,” for sure. Although “You Are So Beautiful to Me” is one of my favorite songs, Bill doesn’t sing, but if he would let me I would sing it to him. He has been a wonderful father to four daughters and helped to mend my broken heart.
Life has tried to take the song and dance out of my heart but I am determined that I will not let that happen. The main thing that has gotten me through 58 years of being a Boomer Woman is the enduring strength of faith I found as a young girl in that little country church, and the love of family and friends. I have found that music and dance are powerful weapons against the enemy who wants to steal our joy. When the battle is raging around you, let the music arise in you. My wish for all Boomer Women is so aptly put in Lee Ann Womack’s song, “I Hope You Dance,”

I hope you still feel small

When you stand by the ocean

Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens

Promise me you'll give faith a fighting chance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance

I hope you dance

Remember the music that got you through your “Boomer Years.”

Donna Collins Tinsley copyright 2010

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