Reminiscing on the kindness of my Grandma Ethel:
When I was a hapless 10-year-old, I broke my collarbone in several places as the result of rolling too-quickly downhill on a faulty skateboard (obviously!). My grandma sent me a get-well card and a little book called “Captain Kitty.” No matter I was ten years old, practically reading Proust, and the card and the book were probably for kids who were just starting to read. It was the thought that counted, and the kitty was SO cute.
Every thoughtful, she’d written on the back of the card: “… I received Holy Communion for you last Sunday & asked God to make you well soon and to spare you as much pain as possible – I hear you are getting very good care and are being a real good patient.” There were riddles in the card, silly ones like “Why is a half moon heavier than a full moon?” (A: because the full moon is lighter.) or “What kind of bank has no money?” (A: a river bank.)
Grandma’s funny get well card concluded, “Try these riddles on your nurse or doctor or even your company. Lots of love from Grandma.” Ah, my grandmother, the card – who loved puns and cheery cards. Now I know where I got that trait!
Anyway, in order to pull off my big moving-to-London, England, scheme, in a carefully worded note (persuasive writing is my forte), I sweetly asked her to help fund my foreign travels. I didn't really think she'd agree, so the $500 check was a pleasant surprise indeed. At the time, it was like having $2 grand or so. It meant a lot and was very helpful to me. I paid it back – or meant to; can’t remember now. I don’t know if anybody else asked her for any help, monetarily. It’s not like I was her favorite or anything; in fact, I don't remember her ever seeming to favor any of her grandkids -- except for those darned Seattle cousins!
I was starting to pack up, reflect on where I was & where I was going. I learned some cool old country songs and was writing a lot of new songs on the piano and guitar. I sang them, too -- but playing piano was laborious for me at best. On my TEAC 4-track, I demoed a bunch of stuff that sounded pretty amateurish, but the harmony vocals were nice (I always do a good harmony or two) and the songs were as good as any others, really. I was on fire.
Seth, the young lead guitarist with Nervus Rex, joined me on electric guitar for a few sessions while I strummed away and sang, including a videotaped segment for a friend’s cable TV show. . . “Please Help Me, I’m Falling” was one of my favorite songs, along with “(S)He Thinks I Still Care.” Of course, I learned all the feisty Loretta Lynn and weepy Tammy Wynette songs, too. . . I was convinced I’d be part of the “New Country” wave out of London, England; be produced by Glenn Tillbrook and Chris Difford of Squeeze; triumph musically, financially, and romantically, in England.
Oh what rose-colored glasses that little gal wore -- with the Guild guitar and several big suitcases in tow -- on the Freddy Laker flight that August night in 1981. . .