I first heard the story about my mother’s singing talent when I was in elementary school. She was 6 years old, living
in a small town in Texas, and it was 1936. A local radio station held a vocal contest, and she was chosen to sing a solo of “ON THE GOOD SHIP LOLLIPOP”. She told me of the excitement she felt at that time. Her family was very poor, and a fifty cent costume was
required for performing, so because her family couldn’t afford this, she was unable to sing. She told the story without remorse- no sadness. At the time I thought it was so very sad. My mom laughed.
When I was in junior high school, and rather full of myself and materialistic, mother recounted the same story, again without
regret, as if it had happened to someone else, not her. This time my response was disbelief. Who in the world didn’t have fifty cents for a costume, and why would anyone need a costume for the radio! What sort of costume could anyone possible purchase for fifty cents?My mom smiled.
In high school, I thought the radio station owners were prejudiced against the poor when I thought of the story. How I would have loved to protest the exclusion of a small child with no costume but with a powerful voice. I could have been my mother’s champion!
After I became a mother myself, I often thought of the same story. My children were given much, and many times it was a strain, as I was a single mom. Yet they would have had that fifty cent costume, no matter how hard it was for me. How could a mother not give her children everything in the world?
My kids are now grown and on their own, my mom is 78, and she still grins and shakes her head when we talk about her lost singing debut. In the ensuing years, I smile too, as I can now see how I have matured and my priorities have changed. I now know that life has so many opportunities and gifts, and one single miss is small in comparison to all of the bright moments.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.