This past weekend I had the honor to share my story with the participants of the Dan Devine Memorial Golf Tournament at the Wigwam Resort in Litchfield Park, AZ. Dan Devine was the head football coach at Notre Dame in the late 1970s and some of his children live in the Phoenix area, with all of his children in town this past weekend for the Notre Dame Club of Phoenix event that honors their father. The money raised supports scholarships established by the Devine family and the ND Club of Phoenix to send deserving students to Notre Dame. What an honor to participate in and support (although not by playing golf!) such a worthy cause.
As with each talk, I field questions – many of which are the same, but there is always one or two that particularly catch my attention because I have not been asked it before. This past weekend the unique question came from my oldest son. Both of my boys (and my husband) attended the event with me on Saturday evening; neither of them had heard or seen me speak before.
I had asked James and Edward to sit with me while I signed books; James collected the money (proceeds of which were donated to the scholarship fund) and Edward made sure there were plenty of books on the table. As I met, talked and signed a book for each person in line, I was aware of my oldest son’s gaze. He watched, as he always does, very carefully. At one point he leaned over and sheepishly (and somewhat shyly) said, “Uh mom, you’re kind of a little bit famous.” I smiled at him, because this is not a term with which I associate (nor view) myself, but I understood what he meant when he followed with, “When all these people go away, you won’t really be famous anymore, right?”
I remember visiting my dad as a Judge in his courtroom, and it was funny to see him act and talk in such a formal manner. James viewed me the same way: his mom, but not the mom/person he knows…and he wanted to make sure that person would return. Yes, James. I’ll always be just mom. But I also think it is important for our children to see who we are, when we aren’t just their parents. Clearly those glimpses into our “other” roles make quite an impact, even if we do not realize it.
I was recently reminded of a song that my friends and I listened to in high school by the Squeeze, Goodbye Girl. I hadn’t thought about the song in years, but it made me smile to remember those carefree times before college, before my accident and before my journey accelerated down the path it has taken. Yesterday as I gathered to say goodbye to a high school friend I was also reminded about how much I have forgotten, and yet how much has stayed the same.
Catching up with some of the women with whom I went to high school was refreshing: we are all living our lives along similar paths, despite the many different challenges and hardships we have faced over the years. And each of us has faced them: difficult pregnancies, difficult marriages, health issues and losing parents. But we remain strong while juggling the day-to-day tasks of our lives as wives, mothers, women. Those challenges are universal - and we women do them so well. Not that men can’t or don’t -because many do. But women find strength in each other, no matter how much time has passed since we’ve seen each other.
I am thankful for the women in my life whom I have met along my journey: grade school, high school, college and beyond. And I am thankful for the women with whom I recently reconnected, and for the comfort and strength we were able to provide each other.
This past Sunday, I had a few hours before I went to my afternoon book event, so I took the opportunity to go for a long walk by myself. I borrowed an iPod shuffle and headed out with just my thoughts and someone else’s music. I like to spend time alone prior to book events, if I can, to clear my head and to focus on the upcoming group: whether it be a school, a church, a business, or in this case a group of readers who have a personal interest and connection with the story.
As I was walking, not knowing what music would be next on the shuffle, a song from the musical Wicked came on. Now, this play holds a special meaning in our home, for various reasons, and I am - as many are - familiar with each word of the score. But this particular song was “For Good.” It begins:
I’ve heard it said that people come into our lives for a reason, bringing something we must learn. And we are led to those who help us most to grow, if we let them. And we help them in return….
I have listened to this song and heard these words a hundred times, but on Sunday morning they played in my mind with a different meaning. We all have much to learn and we all have ways in which we can grow, if we let ourselves and if we allow others to help us. That is what this journey is all about. And if I can do just a little of that, then I will have grown and I will have learned, and hopefully I will have helped someone in return.
Read the lyrics and think about how they hold true in your life. And if they don’t, perhaps they should.
What Though the Odds…
I get a lot of questions about the title of my book. “Interesting choice” was the comment I heard most recently, followed by, “What made you choose that?” I smiled to myself before I replied.
If you are a Notre Dame fan, you know.
If you aren’t a Notre Dame fan, then I am really thrilled you are reading my book! And I am happy to explain the origin of the title:
What Though the Odds be great or small, old Notre Dame will win overall…is a line from the Notre Dame Victory March - also known as the Notre Dame Fight Song. The melody is one of the most widely recognized fight songs in the country; and, I have been told, the most used by high schools for their own fight song. For me it is a tune that stirs my emotions: pride, love, happiness - strong emotions that can only be felt, not explained.
I thought those words defined clearly the message I was trying to convey in my book: that no matter what, we will overcome, that we will “win” in the race of life - just not perhaps the race we thought we would (or wanted to) win.
The Notre Dame Victory March takes on a whole new meaning for me now, and I’ll never sing the song the same way again. I am sure we all have songs that inspire and stir up emotions within us. It is the power of a melody.