Monday, February 16, 2009

A Rose in the Rough

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Faith Rose.

Not every name comes to me, but I remember their faces and their voices, especially their voices.  Because a voice is often so difficult to find, that it requires the help of a therapist, like myself.

She was not my patient but a grandmother, raising a little boy who wasn't speaking; a tiny boy who found nothing to speak of in the backwoods of Texas in a old trailer house.  He did respond to his grandmother's slow, East Texas twang, though.  That was a start, I assured this worried grandmother.

We judge people by so many extraneous clues that we often do not see the real person in front of us.  If I had been asked to describe this grandmother, I would have summed her up in three words, "sweet white trash."  So when I parked outside her trailer house, arriving for the boy's therapy session, I was unprepared for what I heard.  Through the ripped screen door came a voice so sweet and pure, it brought tears to my eyes.  I sat in my car until that voice sang the last note of an aria from La Traviata.

I knocked at the door, expecting to see another person there.  Only the grandmother and the boy awaited me.  It was then that I realized the pure soprano came from this unlikely woman.  "You sing opera?"

The grandmother nodded, then went on to tell me that she trained to be an opera singer but that life had other plans for her.  She pointed out her old turntable and an impressive collection of opera records.  My heart broke to hear of her unrealized life and a voice that only echoed through the backwoods.  She told her story in a matter of fact manner, making it obvious that she did not consider herself a victim.  "Life is jus' life."

As I drove away from her home that day, I had to reconcile all I had just heard.  Here's my reconciliation: She is still a singer; she doesn't need a stage to be that; her audience of one little boy who loves to hear her sing was enough for her.  I had to believe this or my heart would never mend.

Note: Her boy learned to talk.  We used grandmother's opera to do the trick.  I taught her the concept of imitative play therapy and the first imitations the boy attempted were Grandmother's operatic notes.  Later came his words, which Grandmother described as "...coming down like rain, making the sweetest music, like I ain't never heard before."


  1. What a beautiful story! That must have been something, to hear opera coming from and unlikely source. Also good to hear that she used her voice to help her grandson. Life did have a plan for her didn't it?!

  2. Oh Annie, there you go again ... moving me to tears. Such a beautiful story. I have two mantras that I repeat to myself often. 1. Be a good person, and 2. Be open to everyone . I will definitely remember this story the next time I feel myself making assumptions of others.

    PS: Our little one has struggled with sensory issues for all of her young life. From the age of 2 we have had her in some pretty intense speech, occupational, and play therapies. The difference in her today is nothing short of amazing. She has come to life, and what a life it is! We are up at Tx Children's hospital 3 times a week, and I literally have to keep myself from hugging every therapist and doctor I see. The good that they, (and you :-) , do and have done changes lives. I see it every single day.

  3. Elizabeth,

    You are so correct! Life did have a plan for her!

  4. Kelley,

    Thank you for such sweet words! Look who's got the tears now.

    Thanks for sharing your daughter's successes. I love to hear personal stories of success. Give her a hug for me.