to the Editor
My future husband introduced me to Harry Chapin in 1970. It was a mystical, magical time in my life. My social conscience was just awakening. I shook the sand out of my eyes and took my nose out of my self-serving interests and began to see Harry's world. Like Harry said, "Empty spaces always ask for filling." It was the first time I really listened to politicians, watched the news or seriously thought about my fellow man and what his burdens may be. I could not believe the words Harry sang. It was like manna from Heaven.
I began to feel something other than my hormones. I felt prejudices melt away. My mind began to expand. I gained an appreciation and compassion for all kinds of folks: those they call "Easy" and "Daft"; the "Little Black Bummers"; the "Snipers"; the "Woman Child" and the "Barefoot Boys" to name a few. These were my brothers and sisters, trying to make it in this world, just like I was.
Harry challenged me, through his words, stories, and through his work to fight world hunger, to take action in whatever way I could. I was relatively poor and had no marketable talent so I could not feed the masses as Harry was doing, but I could make a difference. "When in doubt do something." So, I became a nurse and have an affinity for the homeless, the alcoholics, the drug addicts, prisoners, prostitutes and the mentally ill.
"Well, time goes by like it always does" and my husband and I found ourselves wanting children. The only option open to us was adoption. There were so many papers to fill out, hoops to jump through. We had to write our life stories. We had to answer hundreds of questions about how we would raise a child. How would we discipline? How would we instill morals? How would we educate this child? Who were our heroes? I had never thought of who my hero was. I wasn't sure I even had one. I racked my brain to think of whom I idolized.
One day, while listening to Harry on my record player (remember them?), and dreaming about adoption, I got really involved in the emotions of two songs: "Flowers Are Red" and "Why Do Little Girls?" Through the tears in my eyes, I studied the blurry cover of the album "Living Room Suite," wondering what it must be like to have Harry Chapin as a father. He was so wise, sensitive, full of passion for life, full of hunger to ease suffering. Surely he knew how to raise his kids. Surely he knew how to instill morals, discipline fairly, and educate his kids. He would be a great father to have. His messages had already impacted my life's work and now I saw they would impact my parenting also.
Harry Chapin was my hero. He had been all along.
We answered all the questions the adoption agency asked, and apparently did so to their satisfaction, because on September 18, 1987, we became the proud parents of a brother and sister who needed to be placed together in one home. Imagine my surprise when I discovered my daughter's birthday was July 16, the anniversary of Harry's death.
By now, of course, Harry was gone, and there would be no new music guiding me in my venture as a Mom. But I had his music in my soul and it would never go away. I would remember the lessons he taught. I would teach my son to draw flowers with the "many colors in the rainbow" and my daughter to never "grow crippled while the little boys grow strong." Yes, I would teach this to my children, and much more, in honor of Harry Chapin's memory.
Got a story about how Harry inspired you to make a difference? We'd love to hear it! Drop us a line at email@example.com
Watch for the Next Issue of Circle! on December 7