Somewhere Over the Rainbow

“Wow, Linda, you look fabulous and fit!” was the statement I heard Tuesday night at my Toastmaster’s meeting. Little did that person know I have, over the past 4 months, unintentionally dropped 1/5 of my weight.  Now, I’ve never had a problem with weight. I had four children and managed to stay relatively thin chasing after them through the years. But I found it truly ironic that I’m the thinnest I’ve ever been—even before my high school years—and was being rewarded with a “Wow, you look fit and fabulous.”  I didn’t feel it.

The Big C

Yesterday I nearly collapsed at work, drove to a 24/7 healthcare center, to be told I’m severely anemic. This coupled with the five other symptoms that have crept up on me over the past four months and the doctor scared me with the big C.

My dad died of cancer and it wasn’t something I was prepared to hear. Now lots more tests need to be done, so don’t get all melodramatic on me. I have lots of years left to live, I know that, and feel that, with every fiber of my being. The point to all of this is that you just don’t know what the day may bring. Are you living the life you were born to lead?

The Pig-Tailed Girl from Kansas

“Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.”
–Judy Garland

This from a woman who played somebody else for 45 of her 47 years. This from a woman who attempted suicide numerous times throughout her tragic life. This from a woman who struggled with insecurities and addictions. This from a woman who was told by her producers that she was unattractive and overweight. This from a woman who died at 47, the same age I’m about to turn in three weeks. Was Judy Garland ever a first-rate version of herself?

Judy Garland will always be remembered as Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, with her ruby red slippers, clicked three times, as she closed her eyes and chanted,  “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.” Ironically, Judy Garland never felt at home anywhere. I can only imagine why she never revealed her true self, always hiding it away—for fear that her adoring fans would cast aside the real Judy. They always wanted Dorothy. The cute little, pig-tailed girl from Kansas.

Living the Life You Were Born to Lead

I also imagine that Judy Garland did live the life she was born to lead. She was a wonderful actress and a beautiful singer with her deep contralto voice. No one does honor to Somewhere Over the Rainbow the way Judy performed it half a century ago. But she never believed she deserved to be Judy Garland and all that she achieved. She was just Frances Ethel Gumm from Grand Rapids, MN. When she was pushed into acting, Frances’ confidence was sucked out of her and for years she was only able to portray a second-rate version of somebody else.

When the big C is thrown at you, your life hits replay over and over again in your mind. “Have you lived the life you wanted? Have you achieved what you set out to achieve? What more do you have left to do?”  It begs the question, “What is your legacy?”

Leaving a Legacy

So what is your legacy? If you were to die tomorrow, did you live the life you were born to lead? Will you leave behind something to remember? Did you live a first-rate version of yourself?

I hope I have.

I know my youngest son Sammy did. On Monday, he’ll be gone 5 years. On June 22. But I still remember his great grin. His aqua blue eyes. His mischevious sense of humor. And his terrific hugs. In his short 10 years, Sammy was a first-rate version of himself. There will never be another.  In the end, all you have are memories, and the ones spent with family and friends are the ones you treasure most.

So as I remember Sammy and Frances Ethel Gumm, who co-incidentally also died on June 22, as I head into the doctors for a follow-up visit to the big C scare, I hope to see a rainbow smiling down on me.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow (click, for a beautiful version by 6 year-old Connie Talbot on YouTube)

Somewhere over the rainbow
Way up high,
There’s a land that I heard of
Once in a lullaby.

Somewhere over the rainbow
Skies are blue,
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true.

Someday I’ll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far
Behind me.
Where troubles melt like lemon drops
Away above the chimney tops
That’s where you’ll find me.

Somewhere over the rainbow
Bluebirds fly.
Birds fly over the rainbow.
Why then, oh why can’t I?

If happy little bluebirds fly
Beyond the rainbow
Why, oh why can’t I? 1

I hope we all live the life we were born to lead—the way Sammy did, so beautifully and innocently with a verve for life and love. Love and miss you tons, my little Sammer Dam.

Sam Losey, 3/29/94 - 6/22/2004

Sam Losey, 3/29/94 - 6/22/2004

1 Somewhere Over the Rainbow, music by Harold Arlen and lyrics by E.Y. Harburg

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