It gave me Goosebumps!
We arrived at the venue with plenty of time to spare. It was a nice little cafe in the lobby of a beautiful, up-scale hotel downtown. The number of people fluctuated throughout the night as many came to eat, visit and then retire back up to their rooms or back outside to head home. Some enjoyed the music so much they stayed the entire night and wanted to talk to Eric afterwards.
I was settled in at a table upfront with a view of the stage and the wide sweeping stairs nearby that led inside the lobby. Two sets of double doors, made of glass, separated our area from the hotel checkin area. These doors and the hustle and bustle on the other side was a constant distraction, yet at times it served as additional entertainment.
There was a point in the evening when Eric was playing an upbeat, bouncy song from his newest CD. The song is called “Why”. As the song began, a large man stepped into view on the other side of those glass doors. He began half strutting and half dancing as he inched himself in our direction to the beat of the music. Meanwhile he balanced a large tray of food on the fingertips of his right hand. On his face was a huge smile as he put on quite a show for us. Eric turned to see what we were watching and he motioned the guy to come on in…This entertaining man immediately came through those doors and down those steps; stopping on each step to shake his bootie. He ended right at the front of the stage. Every move he made was perfect with the beat of the music. We hated to hear the song come to an end. It is so uplifting to see someone as refreshing and happy as this man.
The people at this show were all new faces; except for two friends who came for only a few minutes. These friends were at the Listening Room across the street and they slipped over to our show during the break. It is rare to be in a room full of strangers at Eric's shows, but this is after all a hotel and their guests are the primary audience.
There was a guy who sat alone with his laptop and continually typed at a fast pace. He had a lot to say because his fingers were jumping the entire time Eric played. He would halt his work to applaud after each song. At one point he asked if he could get a business card. In all I gave out at least a dozen business cards that night.
One couple sat close to the stage and they interacted with Eric all night. He was from Greenville, South Carolina and she from somewhere in Mississippi. As the night progressed the volume of her voice continually got higher and by 9 o’clock she was screaming every word like the captain on a cheerleading squad. At one point during the show Eric pointed me out and said “that’s my mother”. After that she would come over and hug me often. They were great folks. They bought one of all 3 of Eric’s CDs and two shirts. Both assured us they are fans for life and they plan to bring him to Greenville for a show or two.
This enthusiastic couple listened to every word of every song and it turns out her name is Amy. She was thrilled to see that Eric has a song about a girl named Amy. It is called “Amy it Ain’t”. When she requested it, he explained that it is not romantic or even sweet. He further explained; it is about a girl not listening when he told her he could not get into a serious relationship at this time. Now Amy (in the song) seems to blame him for the relationship not progressing and feels that he led her on. The guy said, “Sing it man, Sing it!” Eric sang this song and that fellow from South Carolina loved it. He even declared it to be perfect and said he is going to make it his ringtone. Amy seemed excited about that. It made me think perhaps she did not listen to the message of the song as closely as her boyfriend.
Then I looked up to see a woman walk in the door and take a seat. Seeing her was the most exciting part of my evening. I had goosebumps immediately. I turned away and then looked back again to make sure. This woman looked right at me and it took my breath as she looked exactly like my dear grandmother (Irene White) when I was a child. When grandma was in her fifties she was attractive, with long salt & pepper hair and a beautiful smile. This woman’s mannerisms were identical, her face was identical, her size, and the way she styled her hair. It was eerie and sweet at the same time. Moments later she stepped over to me and my heart was beating out of my chest as she approached. Turns out she just wanted to get directions to the restroom. I stuttered as I told her. Even that voice sounded like grandma’s sweet voice. I never told her why I stared or why I was so nervous and unable to speak clearly. What would she think if a person as old as I am, said, “You look just like my grandmother!” It would certainly not seem like a compliment.
She had arrived at 9:00 pm and Eric's show would end at 9:30pm, so I only had 30 minutes to stare at her. Even as I type these words the hair is standing up on my arms and my neck and goosebumps abound. I felt strangely happy as it seemed I was seeing my grandmother alive, young and vibrant again. My grandmother had a happy attitude, she lived her life joyfully, even in times of great hardship and pain. Oh how I still miss her.
Unfortunately, her last 10 years were dark days as she wandered around. She was lost somewhere deep in her mind because Alzheimer’s grabbed her and stole her from us. I remember wanting her to just say my name one more time or just recognize my face again.
Seeing this woman lifted my spirits and lightened those heavy memories of her as she drifted away. She died January 3rd, 1989 (it was on my birthday). I wrote her Eulogy and read it at her funeral service because it was important to me that everyone remember her personality and her vibrant spirit before her days of Alzheimer's.
My time with this woman was almost like grandma was saying, “Im here Juanita and I am fine!” It felt good.
It had been a night of meeting new people, listening to great music and feeling my sweet grandmother one more time.