Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Drammy

Text: I won a Drammy.

Sitting on the porch swing with Millie looking up at me, I read the words. I felt numb. How many years had it been? When did the journey start? When wasn't the journey in our lives?

All of a sudden I felt empty. The journey had been long and most of the time painful and difficult. The journey of our children's lives are ours as well. This was not my time, or was it?

I was never supported in anything when I was growing up, a catalyst for a mother to support her children in their achievements. I knew my son had a gift when he was a toddler. His grandpa had been a singer traveling with a quartet back in the 30's. James had the gift only it was much bigger. It wasn't until middle school that the gift came alive. The skinny kid had a powerful voice. One thing lead to another. The next seven years consisted of hours of classes, competitions and concerts.

He met with his disappointment.....so did I. He auditioned for college admissions to their music programs. His first audition consisted of a panel talking the entire time he auditioned. The next two schools begged to have him.

"We'd like to have him at Boston University and give him Tanglewood as well."

Northwestern was his choice.

The next few years were fraught with disappointment. He had the voice but not the knowledge to help him through the channels of a Big 10 school theatre program. Making your way in the theatre world is not easy. After graduation, James lived in Chicago, Seattle and New York City. He was living the life of a struggling actor. Two years ago he landed the national tour of Evita and got married. When he returned to Portland, the tide had changed.

He met with disappointment. When he cried, I cried. When he sat anxiously waiting for the results of a contest or audition, I did the same. When he was frustrated, I was praying. When he needed a pillar of strength, I was there. When he needed an ear, I was there. When he needed a ride, a place to live, a comforting voice on the other end of the line, I was there. Over the years there were times I wanted him to just give up and not be hurt any more. Times I wished that gift away. But that's not what parents do, is it? No, we swallow up that fear, we fight off our own stress and worry to support our children with strength and as much wisdom as we can conjure up at any given moment. That's what we do.

Over the years I have sat in audiences with wet cheeks watching him perform. I saw the boy turn into a man. An untrained actor turn into a pro. I saw him gain a strength that reflected in his performances. I heard audiences hush when he began to sing and cheer him in the end. The boy, my child, possessed a voice handed down to him from generations before and given to the world when he was born.

He won a Drammy, a coveted award for a Portland actor. I sat on the swing feeling for the first time far removed from his achievement. At first I felt left out. I was sitting with their dog while he was getting an award. I felt all of the time and energy I'd given his career forgotten and unimportant. But maybe more than anything, I felt that my time for him had ended.

I'm proud of this boy, now man, who fought the battles of a tough career. I am proud of the man who was once a nervous kid in the wings now taking the stage with a power that possesses the moment. I know in my heart that I did all I could to support him and allow him this dream.

I sat on the swing and smiled.

"Millie, Daddy won a Drammy."

I think she smiled.


  1. Congratulations.
    Being unsung is part of parenthood. The way to accept it best is to know that they will go through the same thing as parents because it's the way of the world. Thank you, mom is one of the least heard phrases in the english language.

  2. Love you Mom. Sorry you were not there last night to see. I certainly do owe you an awful lot. Thank you for the years of support and love. I share this with you!

  3. I love you, too, son. I'm so proud of you. You owe me nothing. Now you hand off this love and support to your nieces and your children. Your journey was a journey for me as well. One I wouldn't trade for the world.