He was my hero……. and now he is gone
He became my hero at the most unlikely moment in my life. I was 15 and had experienced 3 years of personal loss and turmoil beginning with the loss of my mother then my home and finally my family life… everything in my world was upside down.
On top of that, my boyfriend had dumped me and it was just the last straw.
A usually sunny person who saw the glass half full, I found myself in a place of despair. Locked in my bedroom in a house of relative strangers.
I had no idea that after a very middle-class happy childhood, I would have ended up this way.
Nothing was familiar to me and I couldn’t see a way forward.
Life can be that way don’t you think? Circumstances change in ways that are unimaginable. That is what we’re experiencing on a global level today.
I had no idea my life was about to change forever.
A knock on the door. One of the strangers invited me to come into the room with her and her boyfriend to listen to some music.
Sullen and silent, I went… just for something to do. The music started and she said. “Listen to this song, Kat!” with such passion.
I heard the words being sung. It was as if I was struck by lightning, the way falling in love happens, I heard the words and felt the truth they transmitted.
I was no longer alone in the world, there was someone who thought the way I did, saw the world as I did, someone I instantly could trust.
My hero from that moment on – John Prine.
I couldn’t yet drive, so when I found out he was playing at a nearby college, I took the bus by myself.
I didn’t care that I was there alone on a Friday night. I didn’t care that I had been scoffed by my friends.
I sat in the bleachers that night and soaked up the music and once again felt that feeling. I was home. I had been saved. It was all going to be alright.
I had found a hero to guide me through my life.
I believe it is a rare experience to believe something like that so wholeheartedly and have it turn out to be true for over 45 years!
The last time I saw John Prine was in November at All the Best Fest, a four-day music festival put on just for John Prine fans. I had been to 30 or so concerts featuring my hero over the years but it was magical to be surrounded by people who felt the same way I did about John.
Not just his music and amazing talent for telling stories that reach right into your heart.
Not just his spectacular wit and way with 3 chords and the truth.
It was who John was that brought 2000 plus people to that Caribbean resort.
For four days, he showed me and everyone that we had been right about him.
There was one moment I will never forget. He was on stage with Iris Dement who was feeling some stage fright in front of 2000 raving John Prine fans. We saw him whisper something in her ear and she smiled and relaxed.
He told us, “Iris here told me she was feeling nervous tonight and I told her to relax…do what I do. I love all of you and I assume you love me back.”
A high personal moment came for me last year when he was honored at the Troubadour in Los Angeles for his Grammy nominations. I had a private moment with him when he took my hand and looked into my eyes and just beamed love my way.
I wanted to say so much, to thank him… and I guess I did even though I didn’t say a word – he said, “I know” … and I believe he did.
John Prine passed away last Tuesday from the Coronavirus. The news broke my heart and I cried as if a dear family member had passed away.
John Prine was something more to me. I didn’t have any of the personal baggage that comes with family and friends. The emotional experiences that are many-sided and give life so much meaning.
I had a hero who showed me the way. As a writer, a businessman, a husband, a father, and a friend and loving observer of the human condition.
We all need heroes, don’t you think? Especially in times like these. My hero came in my darkest hour.
Here is what Iris Dement said about her hero, and mine, in a tribute on Facebook.
“John cared enough to look at me, you, all of us, until he saw what was noble… and then he wrapped us up in melodies and sung us back to ourselves”.
I will forever miss having him on this earth with me. I will be forever grateful to have had the experience of knowing someone who was exactly who I hoped they would be and so much more.