My grandfather has a sister, my Great-Aunt Betty, to whom I wrote occasional letters as I was growing up. I don’t know when I stopped…I do know the pace slowed considerably when I discovered boys.
Anyhow, she kept all the letters I wrote her, and recently gave them back to my mom, who then gave them back to me.
I found this one of particular interest:
“To Aunt Betty,
Thank you for sending me a note every now and then. I have a music class at school. My teacher thinks I sing very pretty. I like school a lot and I like my teachers. Coe [my little brother] is going to school too.
This note was written right after I started first grade. I was six years old, and my music teacher Mrs. Bautista had sent a note home to my mom that read, “I have noticed that Starr has a very pretty singing voice. I think it’s solo quality!”
I remember that the note was written in cursive and I couldn’t completely read it. So after school I ran off the school bus and down our hill as fast as my little legs could go, furiously waving that note in the air. “I don’t know what this says, but I know it’s good!!!” (I’ve heard mom tell that story a time or two; I probably don’t remember the event as much as her retelling of the event.)
I wonder if that music teacher had any idea how much that little handwritten note would mean to me? Truly, it was “defining moment”. With her encouragement, I tried out for a small solo part in a school production. It set me on a course of singing in elementary school plays, then talent shows, musicals…and through my fearless Jr. High years, any other stage I could find. (Up to and including pageants. It’s true. Photographic evidence exists but it’s hidden away in dark corners.) And most of my favorite memories from High School revolve around plays and musicals.
Singing doesn’t define me anymore. Not like it used to. I still get to sing in the occasional wedding or Christmas program, and relish those opportunities. (“Use it or lose it” certainly holds true though – definitely can’t belt out those musical numbers like I used to!)
But I’m so grateful Mrs. Bautista took the time to write that little note! She gave me courage to try out for that first little elementary school solo, and set me on such a fun course. Who knows if I would have discovered singing talent without her encouragement. Maybe, maybe not. Regardless, I was happy for the reminder this week of how powerful an encouraging word can be. Call me cheesy, but I hope to be someone’s Mrs. Bautista.