When I think back, I always end up hearing "Getting to Know You" from The King and I as the first musical theatre song I've ever heard. My Grandma Barbara used to sing to it me when I was little. Every time I hear that song I think of her. There was always a musical on her television set in the living room. She was always humming while folding laundry or snapping green beans in the dining room. She would never sing the lyrics at the right time. She took me to my first musical on broadway. That was it. I was hooked. Little did I know back then that she would intorduce me to the love my life.
She passed away last October. What would have been her birthday passed on August 16th.
I was playing Tuptim in a production of The King and I when she passed away. There were two legs of the run. The first leg was taped, so I got to show her the DVD. She was bed-ridden and couldn't see, or really talk, but she heard it. Seeing her like that, watching me, her granddaughter, in her favorite musical, the one she used to sing to me, with me, was heartbreaking. For the last years of her life, she wanted so badly to see me in a show. As I was leaving her and gave her a kiss on the cheek, I said "I love you Grandma. Always." She said "I love you too, Baby Doll" as best she could. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I walked with my Mom to the car. No one expected that to be the last time we saw her, but I did. It was the perfect goodbye. Our time together had gone full-circle.
The second leg of the run was the week she passed. I had shows, so I had to miss some of the wake times. I was devastated. How in the world was I going to go onstage and be happy while listening to the teachings of the wonderful Ms. Anna singing "Getting to Know You?" I did it though. I had to. I had to make Grandma proud.
In a weird way, I did. When I was backstage waiting for my curtain call cue, I stood and looked at a majestic elephant painted on the set. I felt this rush of, let's call it Love, come over me. The kind of Love that could only be given by a Grandmother's hug. "I love you, Baby Doll" rang through my head. I looked up at the ceiling, and simultaneously smiled and frowned with tears dripping down my cheeks.
For every single theatre endeavor I do, I do it for her.
- Happy Birthday, Grandma. I miss you more.