We were in Oshkosh, Wisc. attending our regional convention, and rather than a formal dinner, we elected to have a laid-back night of pizza, pop, and beer in one of the conference rooms at the hotel where we were staying. So our 107 members (and several husbands, too) all roamed down to the room. On our way there, we noticed that there was a wedding taking place outside on the lake adjacent to the hotel. After we'd been stuffing our faces for about twenty minutes, our director, Diane Porsch, came around and summoned us all from our tables. "Come on," she said. "We're gonna go sing to the bride and groom!" (Later, we found out that the sister of the bride had spoken to us and given us permission to sing.)
So the long parade of women in jeans and t-shirts filed into the ballroom where the formal wedding reception was being held. Once everyone was inside and squeezed in between tables of delectable food, Diane stepped up to the DJ's microphone and explained why we were in the hotel, and announced that we wanted to sing a song for the bride and groom. Without further ado, we launched into "When I Fall in Love." About half-way through the song, the bride's tears were visible. And by the end, the groom was also heard saying, "Wow, that was really cool!" After we finished the tag, the whole room rose to their feet and gave us a standing ovation.
...But this isn't where the story ends. We started to file out, when the family stopped Diane and asked her if we could sing one more song...not to the bride and groom this time, but to another very special lady--the bride's grandmother. Her name was Gracie and she was a former Sweet Adeline. She hadn't sung in years, but she was a charter member of a chorus in Beaver Dam.
So before we were all able to file out of the room, Diane summoned us back together to sing our contest ballad, "My Buddy", dedicated to Gracie. The lyrics, for those of you who don't know the song, it goes something like this:
Life is a book that we study,
We could see the tears in Gracie's eyes as we reached the tag. Knowing that we had "crashed" the reception long enough, we started to trickle out of the room as soon as we finished the song. Once back in the room next door for our party, Diane told us that after we sang, Gracie approached her and said, "Give me a hug." Diane complied, and Gracie softly said to her, "You know, my husband's name is Buddy--and we're still together! ...I was diagnosed with cancer last week, and being here and listening to you sing for me was more special to me than you can ever imagine."
Diane looked back at Gracie and said, "Then you know what? I think we were sent here into this room to sing for you. You remember this moment, Gracie. You remember us singing for you today, and that will help you get through this. Just remember that we're thinking of you and praying for you, and you'll be strong."
Needless to say, performing and being able to not only enhance a happy young couple's wedding day, but help an ill woman deal with her pain through our singing, was the undisputed highlight of our weekend. We had intended to go to this convention to perform as outgoing regional champions for our fellow Sweet Adelines. But what we came away with was a very special experience that each chorus member will remember for years to come--and a moment that Gracie will probably cherish for the rest of her days.
As Diane told us that night, THIS is what it's all about. Not wearing medals or winning competitions or anything like that. It's about reaching out, touching your audience, and truly making a difference in their lives. In harmony and love,