Why do these things have to happen?
by Lilly Walters
One of my joys and passions is my singing voice. I love to perform in our local community theatres. My throat got very sore during preparation for a practically grueling show. It was my first time to try an operatic piece and I was terrified I had actually done damage to my vocal cords. I was a lead and we were were about to open. I made an appointment and took off to my family doctor - where I waited... and waited ..... for 60 minutes. I finally left in a huff, went back to work and grabbed a phone book and found a throat specialist close by. Once more I made an appointment for that afternoon, off I went.
The nurse showed me in and I sat down to wait for the doctor. I was feeling very disgruntled. I rarely get sick, and here I was, sick when I needed to healthy. Besides, I had to take time out of my work day to go to two different doctors, both of whom kept me waiting. Very frustrating. Why do these things have to happen? A moment later the nurse came back in and said, "May I ask you something personal?"
This seemed odd, what else do they ask you but personal questions in a doctors office?
"I noticed your hand."
I lost half of my left hand in a forklift accident when I was eleven. I think it is one of the reasons I didn't follow my dream of performing in theatre - although everyone says, "Gee, I never noticed! You are so natural " in the back of mind was the thought, they only want to see perfect people up there. No one will want to see me. Besides, I'm too tall, overweight, not really talented - no, they don't want to see me. But I love musical comedies, and I do have a good voice. So one day I tried out at our local community theater .... I was the first one they cast! That was three years ago. Since then I have been cast in almost everything I tried out for.
I looked at the nurse and replied, "Yes, of course."
She seemed a bit hesitant, then she asked me, "I noticed your hand. What I need to know is, how has it affected your life."
Never in the 25 years since it happened has someone asked me this. Maybe they'll say, "Does it bother you," but never anything as sweeping as "how has it affected your life."
After an awkward pause she said, "You see I just had a baby, and her hand is like yours. I, well, I need to know how it has affected your life."
"How has it affected my life?" I thought about it a bit as I tried to think of what was right to say. But before I really knew the right words, these came out, "It has affected my life, but not in bad way ... I do many things that people with two normal hands find difficult. I type about 60 words a minute, I play guitar, I have ridden and shown horses for years, I even have a Horsemaster Degree. I'm involved in musical theatre and I am a professional speaker, I'm constantly in front of a crowd. I do television shows 4 or 5 times a year. "
"I think it was never 'difficult' for because of my family. They always talked about all the great notoriety I would get because I would learn how to do things with one hand that most people had trouble doing with two. We were all very excited about that. That was the main focus, not the handicap."
"Your daughter does not have a problem. She is normal. You are the one that will teach her to think of herself as anything else. She will come to know she is 'different', but you will teach her that different is wonderful. Normal means you are average. What's fun about that?"
She was silent for awhile, then she simply said thank you and walked out.
I sat there thinking, why do these things have to happen? That everything happens for a reason - even that forklift falling on my hand. All the circumstances leading up to me being at this doctors office and at this moment and time.
The doctor came in and looked at my throat and said he wanted to anesthetize my throat and put a probe down it to examine it. Well, singers are very paranoid about putting medical instruments down their throats, especially ones so rough you need to be anesthetized! I said no thanks and walked out.
Next day, my throat was totally well.
Why do these things have to happen?
(c) Lilly Walters
Phone 909-398-1228, fax 408-228-8752