Starlet Singer

When I was going through some of my mom’s paperwork preparing for her memorial service and writing her obituary, I came across a newspaper clipping that I’d never seen before. It had a photo of her when she was about 17 years old. It read …”Highschool senior will be the youngest soloist with the youngest band at the Plains hotel. Wayne Morrison, with his starlet singer, will play with three other Cheyenne bands for the benefit of the war relief fund.

Starlet singer….oh my gosh, knowing my Mom I imagine that newspaper article made her bloom with pride.

I also came across a bio that she put together at some point later in life that said…”Mary Beth studied voice at under the direction of Mrs Strombotni at the Cheyenne Conservatory of Music”.

I had never known that she studied music.

What I did know though, was that part of the story she carried with her was one of regret. It was well known in our family that as a young woman Mom had been on her way to becoming a professional singer when she met and married my dad. A few months after their wedding, my father left to serve in the south pacific and my mom was pregnant with her first child. Her dream of becoming a professional musician was never actualized and that sat sadly in her heart.

When I read these two articles something fell into place for me and my mom took on a new dimension. Reading the words, starlet singer and the discovery that she was studying music has helped me have a deeper understanding of why she lived with regret. I feel compassion for who she was and understanding about the choices that unfortunately, in that day and age, were never hers to make.

Even so, Mom didn’t let the path not followed get in the way of her love of singing.

She had such a beautiful voice. It was big enough to fill a room. She was never afraid to sing, she never held back. It was pure joy for her to let her voice shine.

When I was a young girl I remember all of a sudden Mom would break into song. A seemingly insignificant incident would remind her of a particular song and sing she would.

Mom was happiest when she was singing. And our family was happiest when she was singing too.

I remember standing next to my mom in church, her strong voice leading the congregation. At times she would get choked up with emotion and her voice would quiet as she composed herself.

That happens to me too when I’m singing in my church or community choir. I get teary eyed by the sentiment of a particular song or I feel a knot in my throat when I sing a song that reminds me of my mom.…my beautiful mother with her beautiful voice.

My mom passed her love of music on to me and in doing so she gave me one of my greatest joys. Now I am blessed to carry her with me in the songs I sing.


Writing something about a loved one who passes away will become an important support to you during your grieving process. Consolodating a life into words carefully chosen, expressing your connection to the person who passed away or acknowledging some awareness that comes to the forefront after death is a powerful way to experience the life affirming potential of the grieving process.

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