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The NarroWay Blog

Chapter 37: The Chandelier

birdie hugging momma

REBECCA –
At the amphitheater the Christmas show opened on Thanksgiving weekend so we had an all-day rehearsal scheduled for Saturday, November 20. Keep in mind, Birdie had breast cancer surgery on Wednesday, November 17! But do you think she missed the Saturday rehearsal?

BIRDIE –
I was a little late that day.

REBECCA –
She never missed a rehearsal or a performance! We finished a great Christmas season and Birdie started chemotherapy.

BIRDIE –
As does anyone who faces chemo, I so dreaded the day I would lose my hair. But, my best buddy, Rebecca, helped me to find a new perspective on life.

REBECCA –
We decided that, before cancer could take Birdie’s hair, she would instead give it.

We made arrangements, so that, when the time came, she would donate her hair to Locks of Love, a non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children and teens.

BIRDIE –
After Christmas we were in rehearsals for our Winter Dinner Theater. Then, on New Year’s Eve, we opened the show “Wounded Warrior.” After that performance, Rebecca and I met Mary Ann, my hairdresser. We could hear the bells of the New Year ringing in 2005 as Mary Ann cut and shaved off my hair.

birdie head shaved

REBECCA –
I sat beside Birdie during every chemotherapy session – eight total. We took our computers and handled business. Often times, when she was on a business call, the person with whom she was talking had no idea she was sitting in a chair surrounded by monitors and tubes. After the six-hour episode was over, we both went right back to work.

BIRDIE –
Quitting wasn’t an option. Neither was slowing down.

REBECCA –
We were finalizing our property purchase, negotiating with banks to discuss financing the renovation of the warehouse into a theater. We selected an architect and started design work and construction bids. We started volunteer labor work on the new theater and began the process of moving.

BIRDIE –
We moved our animals to a farm about 45 minutes away from us.

REBECCA –
We moved two donated trailers to the new property and started relocating the NarroWay offices.

BIRDIE –
We purchased four tractor trailers and up-fitted them to store costuming, props and smaller set items.

REBECCA –
Now, after every chemotherapy, Birdie’s mom, Joan (pronounced Joanne), would call her. Birdie would tell her our woes and our victories. She was the voice of wisdom. Handwritten scriptures taped to the dashboard or held by a magnet to the fridge.

BIRDIE –
She was the voice of encouragement.

birdie and mom talking
mother waving

REBECCA –
Joan Clark was a class-act and her one theater request was that we hang a chandelier in the entrance of the theater. In fact, from the beginning, I told the architect that we had to design the theater entrance with a ceiling high enough to accommodate a chandelier.

BIRDIE –
As she faithfully did, Momma called me from her cell phone after my sixth chemo on January 25, 2005. She and daddy were out, looking at RV’s. She had finally talked my dad into selling our family-owned Clark’s Pharmacy so they could travel. Mom wanted to park that new RV in our parking lot and watch this new theater being built.

parents in church
making props

REBECCA –
We got back to the amphitheater after chemo that day. Birdie’s cell phone rang again - another call from home.

BIRDIE –
This call hurt far worse than cancer. My dad was on the way to the hospital. My mom had suffered a stroke!

REBECCA –
Over the next four months, Birdie would battle for her own life and her mom’s. I picked up as much of the load as I could but there were things only Birdie could do. She kept those balls in the air while enduring chemotherapy and traveling to Virginia every week to sit in an extended care room at her mom’s bedside. Making the situation even harder, the man who had purchased the amphitheater property was relentless. In fact, he stepped up his pursuit to take everything we had at NarroWay.

BIRDIE –
It was April 27. I had just returned from Virginia. It was about 11pm. When I walked through the door, my phone rang and my brother said: “Mom’s not going to make it through the night, sis.”

REBECCA –
Birdie immediately turned around and headed back to Virginia.

BIRDIE –
That three hour drive I cried my eyes out and prayed this prayer the whole way: “Lord, I know you are going to take my mom home. This is the biggest day in her life. She was there for me for all my big days. I beg you to let me be there for her big day.”

REBECCA –
The Lord honored that prayer and Birdie was holding her mom’s hand when Jesus took it.

BIRDIE –
Someone once told me, when you lose your mom, you’re not sure where home is anymore.

REBECCA –
She never got to buy the RV or see the theater built but, with every penny we could raise, we bought her chandelier.
It shines at every show we do at NarroWay.
It greets every audience.

BIRDIE –
I love you, Momma.

birdie and mother
chandelier
plaque
mother by organ

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Chapter 38: Showdown
Chapter 36: When it Rains It Pours


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