Cover Photo: Pixabay
“We took our chance and we flew. Like an arrow, like an arrow. We came to our sense to soar. Like an arrow, like an arrow…” – Like An Arrow (2015) Written and recorded by: Lucy Rose Parton
It was a beautiful April morning. While sitting at my desk, typing away, I got a text from my middle daughter, Megan.
“Dad, Grace Stumberg and Grace Lougen really wants to meet you. They are in town with Joan Baez and wondering if you’re up to anything. They’ve got the day off in Dallas today, with exception of a recording session late this afternoon at a studio downtown. Maybe you guys could meet for food or coffee.”
If you’re unfamiliar with my posts, you may not know about my daughter, Megan Brown.
In 2008, I was leaving Buffalo, NY to move back to my stumping grounds in Dallas, Texas. Megan and I were the last of the family to remain in Buffalo after a divorce two years prior. I got Megan through her last two years of high school. It was a mammoth undertaking leaving our spacious house while squeezing into an apartment. Through her high school years, and right after, Megan grew to be an accomplished vocalist. She did very well in school choirs, musicals and singing in church. She joined a garage band during that time in efforts to sharpen her rock and roll teeth. Along the way, I encouraged her to sing with me at various events. We were a duo team for about 10 years, since she was about 8 years old. I coached her vocally, as well as stage presence and acoustic training, as her talent continued to surface.
Photo: L-R: Tabitha, D’Anna, me, Megan
During the summer of 2008, I had accepted a morning show gig at a new radio station in Dallas. I gave Megan the option of moving back with me. However, she wanted to spread her wings in Buffalo, and shoot for the moon on her own. And boy, did she! I love my girls. Each one is unique, and vastly different from the other two. Of my three daughters, Megan is the one most like me on many levels. It was so difficult to loosen my grip and push her out of the nest.
After I moved back to Texas, Megan was asked to join an up and coming western New York band called, Dirty Smile. As a solo artist she didn’t hesitate. They won international accolades through the Hard Rock Cafe organization, winning awards along the way. Megan became a highly sought-after artist during that time, appearing on many albums as a guest artist. She also has been awarded for Favorite Female Vocalist in Western New York.
Photo: Megan’s old band, Dirty Smile
After many years, and recordings, the band decided to hang it up as band-mate’s wives began having babies. Later she joined another band, which toured nationwide, but was short-lived. She and a friend, Grace Stumberg, started an all-girl band called, Rustbelt Birds. They disbanded late last year due to scheduling conflicts with other bands. Now she is with a new band called, Grosh, with Grace Lougen. They are doing very well, as they released a new CD this very week.
Photo: Megan’s new band, Grosh at their CD release performance event June 13, 2019.
As it turns out, the legendary Joan Baez has something in common with Megan. They share band-mates. Both Grace Stumberg (Joan’s vocal harmonizer) and Grace Lougen (Joan’s lead guitarist) perform in the Joan Baez band.
Photo: Grace Stumberg entering stage with Joan Baez
Thus, the reason for the two Graces to be in Dallas for a couple of days. Joan Baez was performing in an outdoor venue in the downtown Dallas theater district the following day. The weather was perfect. I couldn’t attend as I was doing my own gig in northeast Oklahoma that night.
Photo: Pre-show shot at Annette Strauss Square in the outdoor venue of the AT&T Performing Arts Center Complex.
Soon, in mid July, they will embark for another European concert tour. Joan was one of the artists who performed at Woodstock in 1969. After the Woodstock Fest 50th Anniversary Event was cancelled (slated for this summer) it made it extremely easy to book Europe once again. Joan says it will be her final tour. After five decades of hitting the stage, I can understand why. Still, musician peers of her age are making big splashes on the road these days. (We’ll see.)
To say it was a delight to converge on a Dallas Irish pub for lunch with Grace and Grace, would be a huge understatement. We laughed and told stories about our lives and their “on-the-road” adventures. Since Megan wasn’t at the table with us, I felt free to roll out some of the childhood antics Megan and her sisters got into. We found ourselves at ease with each other as the afternoon went on. We felt as if we had known one another for a thousand years. I was so proud to hear of their enormous respect and love for my daughter. As they spoke of her, I could see a sense of treasure in their eyes. My ears grew as tales of their friendships were described, as well as the professional side as band-mates and fellow-musicians. I can’t tell you how it made me feel.
Photo: L-R: Grace Lougen, me, Grace Stumberg
Sitting there with these highly talented young ladies, I soaked in the warmth of love they shared for my Megan. It truly hit me like never before that Megan and I made the right choice back in August of 2008.
The Texas sun beat down on us as we exited the pub into busy pedestrian traffic. As we hugged out on the walkway, while saying our goodbyes, Grace Stumberg said,
“I am so glad I got to meet the maker of Megan Brown.”
I chuckled as a nervous response. I appreciated what she said, but I KNOW Who made Megan. I am held in His hand.
Just then, I felt my chin quiver. Knowing myself well, I knew tears were next. I had my sunglasses on, so they never saw me shed one drop. But as they walked back to the Joule Hotel, two blocks away, I couldn’t hold them back any longer. My parking meter was beeping at me, which was another excuse to quickly climb back into my car. When I did, I put the key in the ignition, but didn’t turn it. Instead, I just sat silently and wept for a good two or three minutes.
It was written, so us readers who dare to research would know, releasing our kids into the world is like an archer releasing his/her arrow into the air. Kids normally outlive the parents, at least that’s the design of our biological lifespan. So, my girls, my arrows, will go into a future I will not see, a future I will not reach. In August of 2008, once again I found myself holding my fatherly bow. I pulled back the bowstring, tilted upward above all targets for the proper air-arch, distance, and wind direction. Feeling the tension of holding the bow close to my cheek, knowing I could hold it there no longer, I closed my eyes, said a prayer, and let go of the bowstring.
Megan was launched into the world with the swishing sound of the tail-feathers. Her flight continues where I will never be. As she soars, she has pierced hearts, minds, and culture, all of which I cannot. Her trek sails through audiences, lifting their chins from faces I will never see. During her flight, she will look down and see cities, societies, and stigmas without dividing lines mapping out the boundaries I tend to set. Her arch will be observed and heard by many she has not yet seen. As my arrow, she is an extension of me.
Do dads worry? Sure we do. With that said, I have an omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient Father who once launched me at birth. There’s where my comfort rests.
Oh, how those arrows do fly…with fuel for the race.
“Children are indeed a heritage from the LORD, and the fruit of the womb is His reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them…” Psalm 127:3-5a (BSB)