Until Dale…

Dale Yeoman

Dale Yeoman

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When you’re deemed a “senior” (60 and up?) and have never had a hobby before… like golfing, sewing, planting or a myriad of other “fun” endeavors, you are called many things throughout your long and what you thought was a productive life… such as “hopeless” (my active mother pinned that one on me), a “work-a-holic” (my active daughters bestowed that one on me as they shopped with their own credit cards and “malled” it every weekend) or even “troubled” (the one my active ex-husband gave me). And then you retire. Maybe they were right! You are without fun! You don’t even know how to begin to delve into it!

Then one evening you get “out,” see a play, and as you are perusing the program, you gaze into the eyes of a rather beautiful girl on a page describing vocal coaching, vocal training, and… lessons! Oh my, the thought of sitting in a classroom again after 35 years of teaching makes you want to run, and far! Your retired friend sitting next to you meets your gaze, smiles and winks, “You should go!” I laugh out loud. Yea, right, I think. The evening ends with your “friend” still and incessantly going over the benefits of developing a “hobby” (…is everyone crazy? I asked myself). She, the friend, then confirms my guess the very next day by calling the gorgeous “songbird” from our last night’s program and making arrangements for her to bring me to her studio for a… wait for it… AUDITION! How can I say no to someone who has gone to so much trouble just for me and my “rest-of-your-life” dilemma? So, I go. Best thing I ever did just for me!

Dale Yeoman, “the coach,” assures me that she will be honest, forthright, positive and plain–spoken about what I have, and don’t have. I would expect that, sort of. I quietly and prayerfully ask God to help me make it through this one time of frivolity, throwing caution to the wind and letting myself “go” …and then I’ll never do anything this crazy again… I promise. We begin.

One year later, I have been witness and privileged to be in her midst once a week. She has gently shown me a way to grow older gracefully, masterfully and without trepidation. Her patience, professionalism and kindness has taught me that there are angels on this earth, and I have met one of them. Her mentoring and coaching skills have reminded me that I, too, am still a person, not just a “working machine.” Every time she helps me choose a song, trains my vocal chords to do what they never dreamed of doing and pronounces me “progressing wonderfully,” I am once again assured that I am earning a new avocation, a hobby, a skill and a badge of honor. And my once “cast-off” state of retirement is now not so retiring and not nearly so empty.

Dale Yeoman, Arizona’s answer to a grown-up Christina Aguilera, has penetrated my psyche and my heart, and now I feel that I have more than just a hobby. I can now hold my own when the Karaoke machine starts up and, in fact, even “gigging it” for more than a few years and getting a little monetary reward along the way! And all because of Dale.

Dale Yeoman, my kind of woman, teacher and now, friend. She saved my retirement, turned it into something wonderful and beautiful… just like her. And, by the way, no one made me or asked me to write this. I just wanted to. Because, you see, she came into my life when I thought it was almost over. Kids gone, friends scattered, husband TV-ing… and I? I was retired. Until Dale.