Recently I watched a video taken during one of Garth Brooks concerts. One of my friends shared it after seeing it on the website Happiest.net. In the video, Garth was singing The Dance and a lady in the audience held up a sign that said: “Chemo this morning Garth tonight, Still enjoying The Dance”. In the video, it looks to me, Garth saw the sign and asked for the women to come close to the stage. Then he set down on the stage and sang directly to her, then he traded his guitar for her sign.
It is not easy to understand Garth’s exact words when he spoke again, but what I heard was… Garth giving our Father God credit for the women’s boldness and strength in the midst of her crisis. He said something to the effect of “sometimes God writes something in the sky and we have no doubts that Our Father God, our Creator, and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is showing us He exists. And seeing this we know we can do life on this earth. With his fists, he pounded his heart. I think, to say to the women, you touched me greatly and then he left the stage. I understand Garth’s reaction very well. Garth was overcome with the love of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Garth does not remember me, but he is important to me because his mom was and still is very important to me.
For reason’s I don’t understand, at a very early age, I wanted to die. My family loved me, but I was convinced that a mistake had been made when I was born, I did not belong and if people came close to me they would become sick and possibly die. I prepared to face each day in this way – Bracing myself, I would think, I do not fit in, I do not know how to act, I am ALL WRONG. Always remembering to lower my eyes to not make eye contact.
Feeling this way, for many years I was confused by my surroundings, not knowing how I fit in but always trying to fit in, my efforts were self-destructive. It was some time between 11 and my 13th birthday when I first met Colleen, Garth’s mom.
It was common for me to come home from school, run to the barn to catch my horse BlueRibbon, put her bridle on her head, grab the tuft of main at the base of her neck, throw myself onto her back and ride east down 16th Street. For years I had ridden to the woods that ran down Mingo Creek. It was a place I could be lost, in a make believe-world, a world that had nothing to do with people and everything to do with nature. Trees, birds, horses, rabbits, flowers, and cows. Things I paint that are beautiful to me. My Colleen Brooks story begins when I stopped riding to the woods because I had become boy crazy.
I had noticed a few boys a block from my house. Daily I rode by just hoping BlueRibbon and I would catch their attention.
One evening as I rode by that house the family, all of the family, all 8 of them were together on the very small front porch. My heart wanted to be a part of a family together so bad, and my head said: “There are even more boys!” The older boys stood up and walked to the side of the road. This is when I noticed they were all putting something down. They were putting down musical instruments. The family had been singing songs together. This seemed like a good dream.
They were polite and quite aware they were standing beside a full-size horse. I was giddy and might have acted very foolishly. Garth’s dad joined the boys and invited me to join them on the porch. I jumped off and held BlueRibbon by the end of the reins and set on the grass off of the porch. Conversation and questions about BlueRibbon and then it was time for them to go inside to dinner. I impressed everyone with how I could jump on Ribbons back and off I went, planning in my head how I would make this same thing happen again.
It was not long before Colleen, Garth’s mom noticed my daily vigil to ride by the house and after a while, she would come say Hi. She always had Garth in her arms and 2 small children right beside her and at times I could see the older boys. I had all eyes for the boys. I suspect she recognized something in my actions that she knew she could not allow around her boys. Colleen was not going to allow some little girl to come and cause chaos in her home. So to my surprise, she started inviting me to come be with her in what ever she was doing. Ironing, cooking dinner, changing diapers, feeding Garth, she let me be a part of it. She talked to me about her family, she told me about what all of them were doing, playing ball, what grade they were in and how proud she was of them. I watched her iron and clean and feed the children and I listened and I learned I had to behave when I was around her family, I found a self-respect that I had not known. I loved Colleen so much for teaching me about my self-awareness because I knew how to act when I was with her and her family. I love all of the Brooks family.
To my full delight, I was invited often to join them and the music on the front porch. Garth was probably less than 2 when we watched him play the banjo during these family times, most likely some of the first times he ever played. Mostly I knew that Colleen had a voice like an angel and I wanted to hear her every word.
We moved away from 16th street on my 13th birthday. I hated not having Colleen in my life anymore. I missed her but I quickly I allowed myself to forget, that feeling of self-respect that I had experienced when I was around her and her family.
I don’t remember talking to Colleen again until the day my first daughter was born during summer 1979. Somehow Colleen called me in the hospital. She told me all about the family, and she mainly told me about how Garth was doing. She was proud of all of the family and she told me I was special to her. She was very proud of Garth, he was playing music in Stillwater Oklahoma and was becoming known for his music. I loved her and I told her I did. I said thank you for calling and that I never wanted to lose track of her again.
I talked with her on the phone a few times each year. Garth’s music was at the top and very well known. My daughters and I knew the words to Garth’s songs and we would sing along with him on the radio. And then Colleen called me to talk and she told me she had cancer. She told me a lot about what Garth was doing for her to get the best medical help. I knew hardship, grief, and overcoming was familiar to the Brooks family because more than once I had visited one of the older brothers while he was in the hospital, waiting for a kidney transplant. I was watching the family together and I always saw the love and expressions of joy they always shared with one another and with me. Well, this was the thing that had impacted me most of all through the years.
It seems silly to say this because Garth most likely will not ever read it, but I want to say: Thank you, Garth, for working so hard to be the person your mama raised you to be. I see Colleen in you and this means a lot to me. Thank you for loving our Lord Jesus Christ and not being afraid to say He is where your faith and confidence comes.
I may have forgotten for awhile what I learned from Colleen and being a part of her family, the self-respect, realizing my own self-worth and how it affects others but I came back to it when I learned about Jesus love for me. Accepting Christ love for me and beginning to learn what God had done for us when He sent Christ to earth to show mankind His love in the form of flesh and blood, in some way, I was able to relate, I think because I had experienced these times, times that I had laid down my own misery and allowed others to love me. I began to renew my mind and live according to the riches in Christ Jesus rather than my own understandings.
I knew love and God’s grace through the years that I did not want to live. I say this because I intimately know when I do not see a way to continue, God makes a way…
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future, John 16:13
Please allow our Father, His Son Jesus, and The Holy Spirit to be in your daily life.
My Garth Brooks Story has been added to my Devotions, Watercolor and Fellowship stories. I chose the youthful calf Image Pattern to be painted while considering the implications of Christ’s Love and the scripture attached to this story. To watch a video I made while I was painting the Youthful Calf, I invite you to visit my Youtube Site at this link. https://youtu.be/GLfQdXcmkaY