1979: My parish, Immaculate Conception in North Easton, Massachusetts, begins a staggered series of musical variety shows. My wife signs up as singer/dancer, and signs me up to handle the curtain. We then alternate on-stage/off-stage roles, until eventually…
1986: The director asks me to write transitions for “A Rainbow Connection.” I ask if I can write the transitions in verse. The first act includes Red, Orange, Yellow, and Red-White-and-Blue verses; the second act has Black-and-White (for Broadway), Green, Purple, and Blue. On request, I print a flyer with the verses for the cast. The director suggests I publish with illustrations.
1997: In the last of our series of performances, “Holi-daze,” I have become the script writer, designing the scenes and appropriate songs to fit the theme, and occasional have a musician write melodies for my verses. “Holi-daze” is a journey through the year, beginning with Christmas and ending with Thanksgiving. My brother Mike writes music for my lyric, “You Can Be Santa’s Helper.” My sister Carolyn suggests the song would make a good children’s book.
2007! I have “retired,” discovered poetry venues and chapbooks, and printed a small collection, introverses. Awaiting proofs for my next collection, Growing Up with My Animal Friends, I discover local watercolorist Mary Bodio in the nearby coffee shop. I ask if she would look over the text of “A Rainbow Journey.” Mary is eighty-three years old, and draws landscapes and creates prints of local historic buildings. She likes the verse, forty-eight quatrains. We work together and, in four months, A Rainbow Journey is now a book. Red-White-and-Blue and Black-and-White verses are discarded, and a new verse for the oft-ignored Indigo is added.
Because the covers for the first and second editions include a rainbow and balloons, many assume the bookis for children. The third edition cover, recently released, hopes to imply the spiritual nature of A Rainbow Journey. The third edition is now available at http://www.createspace.com/900000970.
A Rainbow Journey is a metaphoric journey through life, guided by an elder (The Mystic), explaining the meaning of each band of the rainbow to a child (The Child). By the end of the journey — “I spent all my life seeking rainbows, expecting at last to find gold. I’m nearing the end of this lifelong quest, but all I got… was old” — The Child offers a warm consolation for The Mystic’s “patience… sacrifice… perseverance.”
A Rainbow Journey is dedicated to members of “the greatest generation,” and is a unique way of saying “Thank You” to a special relative, mentor, or friend.
2008! Mary Bodio and I collaborate again, and You Can Be Santa’s Helper is promoted to book, with lyrics included, and a cd is created for the first edition. The cd is four minutes long, and the musician tells me children’s songs should be in the under-two-minute range, so a revision to the cd (not the book) may appear soon.
You Can Be Santa’s Helper is available at www.createspace.com/1000240658 .
“You can be Santa’s Helper, Every Christmas, and all year — Help him change tears to laughter — Help him spread joy and cheer!”
You Can Be Santa’s Helper is dedicated to Santa’s Helpers everywhere, especially family members, and staff and volunteers at My Brother’s Keeper in Easton, Massachusetts, a charity which delivers furniture and food, and incredible Christmas season support, to our less fortunate neighbors.
When we began these efforts, I called her the eighty-three-year-old teenager, and she was the answer to a prayer I never really asked. She is now ninety, and recovering from a stroke. I am truly blessed to have worked with her. Some of Mary’s artistry can be found at http://www.klas14.com/mary_t_bodio.html .