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Seven Mile Breakdown

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

A Gift From Taylor Hicks



Taylor's Angels has heard so many inspiring stories this past year and a half from so many different people in the Soul Patrol. So, we have decided to ask some of them if they wanted to share their inspirational stories with you. This first story that we have collected is from Judy, aka JSNorris. Thank you, Judy and I hope the rest of the Soul Patrol enjoys it as much as we did.

I guess you can say, Taylor Hicks has given me a gift…actually several gifts, but one tends to stand out among the rest. That gift is Courage.

Before Taylor came into my world, I was content to stay within a certain “comfort zone.” I was a certified homebody…rarely venturing away from home and my husband, except to go to work. Taylor entered my life and the next thing I knew; I was making plans to meet other Soul Patrol members and making plans to attend concerts as far away from Birmingham as Seattle, Washington. I was getting out and about and actually having fun for the first time in a very long time…and making new friends from all over the country and Canada.

Believe it or not, Courage played a big role in all of these experiences since I am basically a very shy, introverted person. It took a tremendous amount of courage to put myself out there like I did…BUT, I did it and I’m a better person for it. However, there is one event where this gift of Courage made its biggest impact. Taylor’s concert appearance in New Orleans, Louisiana, on August 4, 2007…and that requires a bit of a back story to explain the importance of this one concert.

In January of 1977, my parents decided to go to New Orleans to visit some old friends, eat some good Cajun food and listen to some good music. They flew to New Orleans on Friday, January 14 and had planned to return home on Monday, January 17, but sadly, fate had other plans for my parents.

Late on the night of January 15, they had stepped out of their hotel room to go get a bite to eat. As they stepped off the curb to cross the street, a car that seemed to come out of nowhere, struck my parents, throwing my Mom 42 feet and my Dad 72 feet…killing him instantly. I received a phone call around midnight informing me of the accident, my

Mom’s serious injuries and my Dad’s death. I had been told that my Mom would not be informed of my Dad’s death until I arrived at the hospital to tell her. That drive to New Orleans, in the middle of the night, was the longest trip of my life. At the age of 23, I would be the one to tell my mother about my father’s death…the total opposite of what I had always envisioned. Since my Mom had been seriously injured and was unable to do so, the arrangements to bring my Dad home and plan his funeral fell to me. Seems I had a lot of growing up to do that week and I had to do it fast…and I had to do it alone! After his funeral, I returned to New Orleans to bring my Mom home to continue her recovery in a hospital here in Birmingham.

As I left New Orleans that final time with my Mom, I told myself, I could never return to this city again…the memories of that weekend were just too painful. For 30 years I held strong to that resolve. Over those 30 years, I turned down many opportunities to go to New Orleans, but, I would not allow myself to return. However, little did I know that because of Taylor Hicks, I would indeed return to the city where my Dad lost his life.

Early in the summer of 2007, plans were being made right and left to attend several of Taylor’s concerts. Going to Vicksburg? “Yep, you bet!!” He’s going to be in Biloxi, you want to go? “Of course, I do!!” Then, my friend sends me a PM…Taylor would be making a stop in New Orleans that same week Are you in??? That’s when I felt myself slam on the brakes…hard!!! Oh, no, New Orleans? I told my friend my story and why I had never returned and why I felt I could never return to New Orleans. As always, she completely understood the way I felt and told me that it would be okay if I didn’t want to go. As the PMs went back and forth about the trip, I began to hear a voice that kept whispering in my ear, “Maybe, it is time to go back, you CAN do it.” I sent my friend a PM, telling her that I did, indeed, want to go. I mean what better place to see Taylor in concert than the city where his American Idol journey began. It was time to go back…and it was Taylor who had given me the courage to finally say “Yes” to a trip to New Orleans. I could no longer allow the events of 30 years ago keep me from having a good time, being with good friends…and best of all, seeing Taylor in concert. After all, New Orleans had always been one of my Dad’s absolute favorite cities…he loved it there. I knew my Dad would wholeheartedly approve…perhaps, it was his voice I heard whispering in my ear that day.

It wasn’t until we were in our hotel room, in New Orleans, that I realized just how important this trip was for me. I stood at the window of our room on the 38th floor, looking out over the city of New Orleans and tears fell down my face…first, in sorrow, for what had happened there in 1977…then, in joy, for what was happening that day in 2007…this time a much happier reason. Silently, I thanked God for helping me return. Then I said a silent, “Thank you” to Taylor Hicks, for it was because of him that I was standing at that window on the 38th floor of a hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana, getting ready to see him perform in a concert later that night. Taylor Hicks had given me the courage to do something I thought I would never, could never, do again. I was finally able to put a piece of the past, a very painful past, behind me…right where it belonged. I think my Dad would be rather proud of me. I know I am.

Thank you, Taylor Hicks, for giving me the gift of Courage…as well as the gift of your music and the joy you’ve brought into my life over the last year and a half. I can’t wait t see what you have in store for us in the coming months.

Written By:Judy Norris (JSNorris) Published by: Leslie (lmo4taylor)

11 comments:

Lmo said...

Judy--
I had no idea you were going through this when we were away that weekend. This is such a beautifully written story and tribute, that it brought tears to my eyes when I first read it.
Thank you for sharing this with everyone!!! (And next time, you don't have to go through something like this alone-- you know I love and adore you!!!!)
xoxo-
Leslie

Anonymous said...

Judy,
When we were talking about the hot and humid tour I remember you telling me that you had not been back to New Orleans in many years because of something that happened there, but you never told me what had happened. Now I know. What a heart-breaking story, and how devastating for you to not only find out that your father had passed, but to have to be the one to tell you mother. I am so glad for you that you were able to find the courage to go back to N.O. whether it was found through your father's spirit, Taylor, or God. Thank you so much for sharing your touching story. I enjoy hearing how Taylor has touched or changed people's lives and how he has brought strangers/friends together from all over who would have never had the opportunity to meet otherwise.

Hugs,
Casey (Soul Traveler)

miknerak said...

Judy,

As I'm sitting here with tears streaming down my face, I am again reminded of all the Taylor has given to all of us, not just you. Indeed, it was courage that Taylor gave to you. I can never know how you must have felt about NOLA before this summer but I can imagine. The relief of letting go of the weight of that burden you carried for so many years must have been phenomenal. I am so glad that you were able to experience NOLA in a different light and to have a happy memory now. Your courage gives me courage! Thanks for sharing and thanks for Taylor!!!

Anonymous said...

Wow. Tay does do a lot for us, doesn't he? I so need to post my story too. Yours inspires me to do it. And I will barrow just a smidge - a smidge now, of that courage if I may.
~tyg

Annie said...

Judy, when I met you in Huntsville in March, I never knew what secret pain you were holding onto. What a wonderful story of courage and determination to bring you again to the city where such tragedy happened. Taylor has made such an impact on people's lives, helping them to do things that they normally would not be able to do. God has put Taylor into our paths for some very specific reasons, and this may have just been the very reason he was put into your life. Enjoy the freedom that this lifting of a burden can give you. Love you, Judy xo.

maryann1 said...

Judy,
You know how feel and how happy I am for you that you made the decision to go back to New Orleans. I know it was a hard one for you to make and prayed that God would guide you to do what was best for you, and knew that when the time was right you would go back one day.

I was overcome with emotion and happy that you made your decision to go to New Orleans and it was because of Taylor that you got the courage to go back to a city with so much history of music but also one that was filled with many sad memories for you from thirty years ago.

I know how it must have felt for you to drive into NO and had tears in my eyes for you. Thank you for letting me share that time with you and making the trip back to New Orleans. God's Angels were with you.

I admire your courage and the person that you are for making this difficult decision.

God Bless You,
Mary Ann

Anonymous said...

Judy-

We would of never imagined what you went through while in New Orleans.
You are an amazing person to have faced this challenge in your life. Taylor has given us all many gifts - courage included. Thank you for bringing this story to us.

I am here for you whenever you need me and so are the rest of us. God Bless you!

Luv Ya,

Teri

RagsQueen said...

Judy - my heart breaks for what you have secretly locked away inside you for all these years, but I rejoice with you in breaking the chain that has held you back. I'm so glad you found both the strenght & courage to make that journey to enjoy a fantastic week-end with all of us. Now you can hold your head high and be proud of your accomplishment! And by the way, I have no doubt that it was your father's voice you heard telling you to go. Sometimes when we least expect it, those loved one who have passed on do come back to remind us to live and enjoy our lives! Here's my hug of joy for your triumphant return! (((((HUGS)))))!

Mandy

Jess said...

To my friend Judy. We have had so many good times and laughs together. If you were here right now I would give you a big hug for opening up and sharing your pain with us, you didn't have to and by no means are you obligated to...so thanks! So I owe you a hug the next time we met again :)

What a story...Leslie said to grab a kleenex and I admit I came unprepared when I click the link to read this. I had to go searching and luckly I found a napkin in my desk...lol

Just as Leslie said..you are never alone and hope that no of us ever have to feel this way.

Isn't it amazing what Taylor can do for us :)

Love You!!!!!
Jess

Claire said...

Thanks for sharing your story of courage, Judy. You are such an inpiration. You have to know that we all love you here, you have shown so much love here at TOSP. Here's my love for you.

{{{{{HUGS}}}}}}

PayTheDevil/Heather Ann said...

You go Cowgirl!

“Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers but to be fearless in facing them.

Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain but for the heart to conquer it.

Let me not look for allies in life's battlefield but to my own strength.

Let me not crave in anxious fear to be saved but hope for the patience to win my freedom.

Grant me that I may not be a coward, feeling your mercy in my success alone; but let me find the grasp of your hand in my failure.”

Rabindranath Tagore, from 'Fruit-Gathering'

You are everything of which this poem speaks. You are amazing.