Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Valuable Lesson

Another prompt from Mamakat's Extremely Important Writing Workshop:  2.) Share a lesson you learned from your Father that still sticks with you to this day.

It was a choir concert, just like every other choir concert ever.  I was standing on the top riser, surrounded by sopranos, sweating a bit under my robes, wishing I had won a place in a choir that had cooler uniforms.  Though my thoughts wandered, I had my eye on the choir director, singing my heart out; I could do this singing stuff in my sleep back then.  I knew my parents were out there in the audience, even though I couldn't see them.  They came to every concert, even though my dad worked three jobs and was going to school.

Suddenly I felt a weight on my shoulder. I glanced sideways to find my friend Ursula leaning on me.   Occasionally, standing on risers in heels was painful, and it was normal for one of us to lean on another to surreptitously step out of a shoe or rotate an ankle. My attention wandered again.  But Ursula kept leaning, a constant pressure on my side that I knew would interfere with my breath control. I glanced at her again; her eyes were open, but she was not singing. Maybe she forgot the words?

I did what any person would do: I flexed my elbow, to get her attention. Perhaps Ursula had no idea she had been leaning on my so long.

Ursula indeed did not know. She had fainted, standing up, in the middle of the concert, with her eyes wide open. My little push caused her to fall right off the back of the riser. Shocked, I watched her robes flutter as she fell. She crashed loudly to the floor, just as the choir was singing about stars beginning to fall from the sky.  I yelled, then jumped down to see to my friend.  A couple of other girls stopped singing to scream; there were murmurs from the audience.  The song faltered a bit, but the director kept things moving.  I saw my dad running for the stage from the corner of my eye, still in his coat. 

My dad wasn't freaking out, although he probably thought it was me who fell off the risers.  He just knelt next to Ursula and checked her pulse, breathing, etc.  I watched him for a moment.  He was so calm, his movements so measured, that I knew that my friend was okay.  I crawled back up on the riser to finish the song; the show must go on.  Ursula began to regain consciousness, my dad speaking to her softly.  His calmness seeped into her. Rather than the expected hysterics over fainting and falling, Ursula was able to sit up quietly until they were able to move her to a quiet room backstage.

What did I learn that day, besides the fact that people can faint with their eyes open?  I learned that people need calm in an emergency.  My dad was calm, and that helped calm everyone else, even a teenage girl known for her dramatics.  The incident also made me think about how much I relied on my dad to be calm in scary situations.  People need someone who looks like they know what they are doing, even if everything else is chaos.  As long as that person is calm, or is at least acting calm, they are the eye of the hurricane, people will gravitate toward that person and they will share in that calm.
I try very hard to stay calm during emergencies, because I know that my calm will help my son, and my husband, and I have my dad to thank for that. 


  1. "People need someone who looks like they know what they are doing, even if everything else is chaos."
    --This is so true. I stay home with my kids and know that as long as I stay calm when accidents and owies happen, they'll stay calm. It's like a child who falls and doesn't start crying until people rush toward him... just stay calm, people! This is a great lesson you've learned from your Father. One of those practical, important life lessons that most people seem to skip out on.

  2. that was an incredible story! How wonderful that your father was a calming influence on your life! I wish I had had just ONE CALM individual in my family growing up. We are ALL hyper lunatics!

  3. I think it's so wonderful when one simple action like that can teach a child so much. And it's such a valuable lesson. It seems like we do live in a world filled with overreaction and "drama". We could certainly use more levelheadedness!


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