phantom

My twenty-one year old son Ben is taking me, his mother, to see ‘Phantom of the Opera’ on Broadway.

For the past week, I have been sharing this most wonderful story:

It begins with one of Ben’s teachers letting me know he has been doing really well in his new job working (since Oct.) in the kitchen at his school. Being a real job, he is making real money, and the time had arrived to discuss how that money might be spent. When the question was posed to Ben, he apparently, unsolicited, and without hesitation said, “I want to take my Mom to see Phantom of the Opera!”

Smile. I received an e-mail from his teacher asking if this is possible.

“Yes!” I responded, ” Let me make some arrangements to get us to NYC and I’ll let you know.”

It was easy to make the call to connect with dear friends outside of the city, determine the best date to attend a Saturday matinée show, and e-mail back to Ben’s teacher with enthusiasm. I shared that there is a wide range in seat prices for Ben to consider. I received a response within an hour from his teacher saying that Ben had already bought the tickets, and when presented with the options for seating, he chose the very best seats available for that show, again without hesitation.

I am so excited!  Really. I feel like a little kid getting ready to explore new territory with a trusted beloved presence in my life. I have never seen ‘Phantom’ live on stage either. After all the years of living in NYC (where Ben was born) and all the shows we’ve seen, somehow we have missed seeing this longest running show in the history of shows.

Phantom of the Opera opened in London on September 27, 1986 and opened in NYC at the Majestic Theatre two years later. I think back to when Ben’s obsession with the story and the music began. I can’t pinpoint it exactly, but I know somehow my father was involved. The image is of Ben and Dad driving in the car together, Ben wanting to listen to his Barney (yes, the purple dinosaur) music, and my father countering with his Phantom of the Opera CD. I’m pretty sure this is close to the truth. I remember having a random thought of ‘hmmmm, Dad listens to Phantom of the Opera?’, and then a clear memory appearing of when he actually dressed up as and played at being ‘The Phantom’ in a haunted house production when I was in high school. In 1974, there was no romanticized stage show and movie of this story. It was just the legacy of black & white film star Lon Chaney as a scary monster version of The Phantom to draw inspiration from, and Dad did a good job at being scary!

Dad Phantom

For Ben, I think the Phantom has always been a hero. Someone who fights for love. Someone who just wants to be loved for who he is. The music and costumes and drama of this modern adaptation of the 1909 story written by Gaston Leroux has clearly captured his imagination. But not before capturing and transforming my father’s relationship to The Phantom first, to pass on and share with his grandson. His blessed grandfather, whose first words reportedly said when he heard that Ben had Down Syndrome were, “What a gift.”

I am generationally sandwiched between two men I adore.

Which brings me to the heart of this sweet endeavor I am soon to embark on with my son. It feels like a rite of passage. I can feel the man in him reaching beyond his mother toward the man his grandfather is, honoring and cherishing where he feels love and support in his life while beginning the process of giving back at the same time. I can feel the threads of his charm and independence and integrity beginning to weave a clear path for his desire to follow….

I have had moments of worrying that Ben might identify too specifically with the sorrow that the Phantom carries. But in the end I’m convinced he identifies mostly with all the levels of yearning for love in a way that allows him to reach out and connect. Since he has been at school at Berkshire Hills Music Academy, he has found an authentic context for safely exploring where this yearning leads. His lessons in voice and dance have given him opportunities to experience what is feels like to truly embody the passion that lives in him as he performs for his community when on stage and in his life each day in his work.

Here his is, poised to deliver his second year recital.

P1120088

With confidence and calm, he introduced and delivered a performance of a program that literally knocked my socks off.


Of course there was a piece from Phantom of the Opera. I’ve wondered about his choice to sing “Think of Me”**, the song that the star Christine sings for her stage debut and capturing the interest of her childhood friend Raoul. It is a sweet song, full of desire for being seen in the wake of something remembered. He didn’t sing it with melancholy however, he sang it with his hand on his heart and a smile on his face. That’s Ben. Reminding us….

 

**Think of Me – Andrew Lloyd Webber

Think of me

Think of me fondly, when

We’ve said goodbye

Remember me

Once in a while, please

Promise me you’ll try

 

When you find,

That once again you long

To take your heart back,

And be free

If you ever find a moment,

Spare a thought for me

 

We never said

Our love was evergreen

Or as unchanging as the sea…

But if you can still remember,

Stop and think of me

 

Think of all the things

We’ve shared and seen,

Don’t think about the things

Which might have been

 

Think of me

Think of me waking, silent

And resigned…

Imagine me, trying too hard to

Put you from my mind…

 

Recall those days,

Look back on all those times,

Think of the things

We’ll never do…

There will never be a day when

I won’t think of you

 

We never said

Our love was evergreen

Or as unchanging as the sea…

But please promise me,

That sometimes

You will think of me

2 thoughts on “phantom

  1. Oh, Kathy, this made me cry.Yes…what a gift !!

    From: spontaneousaccomplishment To: ddenome@frontiernet.net Sent: Saturday, February 21, 2015 8:48 AM Subject: [New post] phantom #yiv2268413859 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv2268413859 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv2268413859 a.yiv2268413859primaryactionlink:link, #yiv2268413859 a.yiv2268413859primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv2268413859 a.yiv2268413859primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv2268413859 a.yiv2268413859primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv2268413859 WordPress.com | Kathy posted: “My twenty-one year old son Ben is taking me, his mother, to see ‘Phantom of the Opera’ on Broadway.For the past week, I have been sharing this most wonderful story:It begins with one of Ben’s teachers letting me know he has been doing really well ” | |

  2. What a beautiful image of Ben — weaving his charm,independence and integrity into a path that includes treating you to what promises to be a wonderful experience. I’m thinking he got his spontaneous generosity from somewhere!

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