She Stood in Front of the Podium

She stood in front of the podium, hardly believing that this day had come. She inhaled, put her right hand on her lower ribs and her left hand atop her right. She could hear the second hand of the clock on the back wall beating out its tune. She closed her eyes.

She remembered being nine and performing in the “Everyone is All American Review.” Voices singing as she stepped out and took her place in front of the microphone. She stared out at the auditorium; a sea of eyes, ears, noses and mouths. A man furrowing his brow, a woman with an overly drawn on smile, a grey haired man yawning. She saw her mother fussing with the buttons on her little brother’s shirt, while her little brother impossibly tried to tie his own shoes. Then she saw her Father. His eyes filled with pride and a smile of such deep love that she felt his warmth pass through her. She planted herself squarely on both feet and let her voice fly, “Oh Shenandoah, I long to hear you.” Those seven little words would change her life forever; her first solo.

She made her way back to the group to finish the song. As the audience applauded, Ms Marion motioned from the wings for her to step out and take a bow.

She looked at the sea of people and saw her mother glance furtively at her watch, while her little brother impossibly tried to whistle through his fingers. Then she saw her Father wipe a tear from his eye as her own welled up. They had the kind of connection that existed in stories and myths. He knew what she was thinking, sometimes even before she did.

He encouraged her to sing from the time she was four. Every Sunday morning was spent lying on the floor of the den listening to album sides on his record player. He taught her the words to the Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Wonder. Her favorite song was "Waiting on a Friend" because it was his favorite. She had hoped to be able to sing it for him one day.

She exhaled as she listened to the second hand still beating out its tune. She opened her eyes and looked out at another sea of eyes, ears, noses and mouths.

A man with his lips turned down in a frown, a woman dabbing her eyes with a pink handkerchief and her brother, now a man of 6 foot one, with his arm around their frail mother who tricked her face into the gloomy countenance of Yama.

She looked for her Father’s eyes but they were closed in the casket on the right side of the room. She took another breath, felt a wave of heat rush through her entire being, and began to sing, “I’m not waiting on a lady, I’m just waiting on a friend. I’m just waitin’ on a friend, I’m just waitin’ on a friend.”

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