Whitney’s hit song, “The Greatest Love of All” first aired in 1986. It was a huge hit for my son – she brightened his world more than she will ever know. When the video came on MTV – he would hoot and holler like no other with such excitement, rocking back and forth as hard as he could whether he was sitting propped up on the couch or strapped into his tumble-form chair. As Ryan rocked – his arms would go a hundred miles an hour. The same year this song went live, my ex and I separated. Finding it hard at times to deal – I would pack up Ryan and we’d ride around in the car listening to music on the radio. If Whitney’s song aired – there you would see my son in his car seat – screaming with excitement – trying to rock as hard as he could despite how well he was strapped in.
Then there were the times I found it necessary to take my son grocery shopping with me. Not an easy task as he didn’t sit well in the shopping cart seat – but we managed. Well, I guess the little man decided grocery shopping wasn’t for him. After a few times – he screamed as we’d head into the store – and not because he was excited! You would have thought I was hurting this kid physically. He would cry – scream – it was awful! I didn’t know what to do. Continued….
Then I got this brainstorm. What if I bought a cassette tape player and put headphones on him to let him listen to his music while we shopped. I wasn’t sure this would be a go because he didn’t like to have his head touched at all – but I felt it was worth a try. Do you know – once he realized Whitney was singing (I’d put the headphone up to his ear) – he was as happy as could be. He allowed the headphones to go on his head – he’d even keep them there. He would sit in that cart seat hooting and hollering with excitement. He would try to rock in the seat – just like at home and in the car. People would stop and say to me – he’s such happy child. I would reply with, “As long as he has his Whitney playing, he’s as happy as can be.” Eventually, I made a tape of all the songs from the artists he really likes – best thing I ever did! We could go anywhere and he’d be very content.
I never wrote to Whitney to tell her how much she touched his life, and I really wish I had now. She was the first who touched him so deeply. Billy Ray Cyrus came second and he still touches Ryan deeply – we have to have his CD on every morning while we’re getting him up. He knows the songs so well, that he says the words before they’re sung (so much for being a vegetable they told me he’d be).
The difference though – we got to meet Billy Ray in person, one on one after a performance here in NH. It was a very special time – more so for me because I wanted Billy to know how much he touched Ryan’s life. Ryan was front row and center of the stage and Billy Ray made eye contact with Ryan several times. After the show, we were escorted out the back where he met Ryan. He signed a cap for Ryan, a picture and we got pictures of us with Billy Ray. I gave Billy Ray a VCR tape of Ryan being casted for a body brace – which I heard he actually viewed. If it weren’t for Billy’s songs – the casting would NEVER have happened. Ryan may not have understood the whole deal in meeting Billy Ray – but I’m glad Billy Ray knows how much he touched my son’s life – I just wished Whitney had too.
As I sit here wishing Whitney had known – I think Whitney’s daughter would appreciate knowing how much her mother meant to a young child – I may just have to write to her 🙂 Whitney will always live on. She’ll always be remembered for the lives she had touched.