One night in October, many years ago, I sat in a smokey bar in a little town not too far from here and watched as my then boyfriend Tim, prepared to sing in the finals of a karaoke contest. I had almost not gone that night because I was really not feeling well, but he and some of our friends who were also attending talked me into going since it was after all.....the finals.
After arriving, I felt much better and watched as the bar filled to standing room only. Tim loved to sing and he loved karaoke and he went every chance he had. This particular contest had gone on for several weeks and tonight would crown the winner. Tim paced and seemed excessively nervous about something that just came naturally to him. Since he had not clued me in on his song choice, I tried to imagine what he might be singing to cinch the win. I figured he would go with something Garth Brooks as that is the type of song he loved and that he did so well.
When Tim's turn came, he walked to the stage without giving me a second glance. Hmph! For this I came out tonight? He had pretty much ignored me all evening. A friend of ours grabbed a video camera to commemorate the night and I stood by not knowing whether to be irritated or to cheer him on. Suddenly the music started and I was surprised to hear George Strait music. Tim sang George at home a lot, but I had never heard him sing it at karaoke. The song was "I Cross My Heart." The moment he began to sing, his eyes locked with mine, so much so, that I almost became uncomfortable as everyone else began to look at me too. Tim was a showman and he could make everyone in the room feel like they were apart of his performance, but that night, it was obvious that his performance was directed at me.
I love George and I dearly love that song. I watched as Tim sang and moved through the crowd, never losing contact with my eyes. I began to feel so strange over the whole thing that I sat down, but for some reason, I couldn't unlock eyes with him either. Finally, as the song was about to come to an end, he came up to me and with all eyes in the room on him and I, he got down on one knee and pulled out a red velvet rose. He then asked me if I would marry him. I was so beyond shocked that I just sat there a moment before answering. When the words finally came, they were "YES! YES! YES!" In the velvet rose, held the most perfect engagement ring. I was the happiest girl in the world. It was fitting that George had a part in that moment.
My mother never really commented on actors or stars much. In fact, Robert Taylor was the only one of star power that I ever really knew made her heart beat faster. That was, until George Strait came along. From the moment he hit the country music charts in the early 1980's, my mom was hooked on that man. I am not sure whether it was his smile, his rugged rancher good looks, his voice or the whole package put together, but she was smitten.
Mom loved George's videos and when the movie Pure Country came out, she was over the moon. She would always say, "If I was just a little bit younger...." When Mom finally broke down and got a desktop computer, the first thing she wanted was a picture of George as her screen saver, and when she retired from the hospital, one of her fellow employees presented her with her very own VHS copy of Pure Country. It showed they really knew my mother's heart. Sadly Mom never got to see George in concert and she only got to watch her copy of the movie a couple of times, but the joy she got from seeing his face and listening to his music, was beyond compare.
So last night I finally broke down and watched George Straits final concert which I had recorded when it first came on a week or so ago. I am a huge George fan and I have even seen him in concert, but for some reason, I had put off watching this concert. It surely wasn't like me. However, five minutes into the concert, I realized why my subconscious had been putting it off. George's music is timeless and every song holds a memory. I immediately went back to that October night when Tim sang that song, George's song....just for me. I remembered all the times we had two stepped to his music and the times Tim had grabbed me in our living room and slow danced me around the room to George's songs. My heart filled clear up to my eyes as the tears began to trickle down my cheek.
Then the song, "I Can Still Make Cheyenne," came on. It was one of my Mom's favorites and for a moment, she was there with me. I could see the smile on her face as she listened to him sing and I could almost hear her say, "If I was just a little bit younger...." Yes, the tears overflowed as George sang and I sat there remembering two people I loved so very much and who I lost just a year and a half apart. So George went on singing and I went on crying and when it was all said and done, I was really glad that I had not put this concert off any longer. It was cleansing as his beautiful voice and amazing songs took me back to places in time that I would not trade for the world.
So to you George Strait, I give you many thanks for all the years of memories that your songs have provided. I thank you for those moments that I hold dear in my heart and for the soundtrack that your music has provided for my life. And truly......I Cross My Heart, that you have in me.....a fan, until the end of time!