One Great Man

I’ve been thinking recently about my Grandaddy.  One of the greatest men to ever walk this planet.  Growing up, he was my hero, my father figure and an inspiration in how to pattern my life.  He was caring, honest and a man of integrity…..he was larger than life itself.  To say that I miss him doesn’t and never will capture what my heart really feels.  It would be like trying to compare a picture of the ocean to standing on the edge of the shore, looking out over that great vastness.  That’s the best I can come up with to describe how I miss him.

I was not quite a month pregnant with Jeremiah when he passed away.  It was that true moment of one life ending while another begins.  I knew that I wanted to name Miah for him, but Brenden already carries his name, so trying to figure out how to do that was quite tricky.  Then it hit me like a ton of bricks.  Miah’s middle name would be Lee, in honor of both of my grandparents.  My grandmother’s name is Laura, but Grandaddy used to call her LE-aura, and then a lot of the time just Lee.  I can remember sitting at the table, having dinner and him yelling out “Hey, Lee!”   I could think of no greater way to honor him than to call Jeremiah after his nickname for Mom. (that’s what we call my grandmother.)  How I wish that he could have seen Miah, and that Miah could have known him.

There are people in your life, be it family members, friends, or influential “celebrities” that make deep impressions on you, that inspire you, that mentor you.  My Grandaddy was this type of person.  Just being around him made you want to strive to meet his expectations, to live up to his standards, and above all, to make him proud of you.  He was warm, funny, amazing.  He was Grandaddy.

I remember that last day.  I had gone to see him in the hospital and sat and visited with him, told him how the boys were.  Matthais was barely in school, the twins were not quite three years old.  The last part of my visit and conversation replay over and over in my mind.  I told him when it was time for me to go that I had to get back to Okeene because I was singing in church.  I led the praise and worship at the time.  He began to tell me of singing with his brothers and sisters on the river bank, and that when we got home, we were going to sing up a storm.  Grandaddy never said we were “going home”….ever…it was always “Let’s head to the house”.  In the back of my mind, I knew that would be the last time I would see him and talk to him.  I pushed it down, because in my heart I didn’t want to believe that.  I remember that was one of the greatest church services we had ever had.  Most of all, I remember the pain when I was told he was gone.  I remember, because I still feel it.

I wish he were here to know his amazing grandsons, to see the awesome musicians and young men they are.  I wish he were here to see Matthias graduate this year.  I wish he were able to put those father-like arms around me and let me know that no matter how stressful things get, they always get better.  I wish I could just see him again.  To hear his voice, his laugh and to sing with him HERE at the house, and not wait until we’re both “home”.

Grandaddy, I don’t know if it’s because you’re birthday is next week, or what it is that has me thinking of you so much right now and missing you so very much. But I know that I haven’t missed you so much in the past 11, (almost 12) years as I am missing you in this very moment.  And I hope more than anything, that I have made you proud, that I have lived up to your standards and expectations.  You were the greatest man I ever knew and I look so forward to when I will see you again.  I love you Grandaddy!! ~Wessa~



A Strong Foundation

A marching band is like a house.  Your percussion and low brass or bases (tuba, baritone, trombone, baritone saxophone and alto clarinet) make up your foundation.  Your supporting voices, (alto and tenor saxophones, clarinet and horn or mellophone) make up your support structure and walls, while your high voices and melody (trumpet and flute) make up your roof.  It takes all levels of this structure working together to make sure the house is a strong unit, but if it’s not built on a solid foundation, your building isn’t going to stand.

The Mama Cross Featured Section Of The Week is one of the two that provide the band’s solid foundation, and does this with only four members:  the Low Brass. 

Allow me to introduce to you tuba player and section leader RJ Schmidt and trombone players Brenden Cross, Tyler Lott and Sadie Schmidt.

This small section plays so much larger than life, the average person wouldn’t guess that there were 3 boys and 1 girl providing all that full, powerful sound.  But playing is only part of the story.  On the field as well as on the street, these four work hard to strive for excellence in their marching, posture and horn carriage.  In the football stands they will pump you up and get you energized with their enthusiastic dancing.  They are committed, focused and driven to be the very best that they can be.  Brenden summed this up when he told me, “Being a trombone player is not just what I do, it’s part of who I am.”  Without a doubt, these four very talented kids are just some of the shining gems in the Pride of Hennessey’s crown.

While all four of these students are amazing, only one could be picked for outstanding section member, and that person is our lone female trombonist Sadie Schmidt.








Sadie made the transition back into playing an instrument this marching season as she was a member of the 2010 award winning color guard.  In watching her march, seeing her posture and her horn angles, as well as hearing her play, you wouldn’t know this was her rookie year in the low brass section.  From her heart, Sadie wants to be at the top of the game and bring the best performance she can.  Sometimes this isn’t an easy feat as her section leader is also her older brother.  While at times it seems he is pushing her to the extreme, I know he is glowing with pride at how well she does and tries to pull every drop of greatness out of her.

Sadie is a member of this year’s 8th grade class.  Some of her favorites include:  Macaroni and Cheese, the color forest green, hiking and swimming.  Her favorite people include her sister Lily, whom Sadie says “takes up for her and understands how she feels,” and the twins (Brenden and Tristan Cross) who are “always nice and usually have positive attitudes for everything.”

Saide also loves spring and with her enjoyment of learning about other people, she lists History as her favorite subject in school.  She also loves Christmas as “it is a time to give back” and she goes with a friend to her church who goes to the Sequoya House in Enid, OK to help give out presents, provide a meal and to spend time with the people there.

In regards to The Pride, Sadie says, “It’s amazing to be a part of something as cool as this,” and she looks at the band as family.  While generally a very quiet person, Sadie has a big heart and strives to make Mr. Steuart proud of her performances.  She can rest well, knowing that he is indeed proud of her and extremely happy to have her as a part of his low brass section.  Make no mistake, Sadie is a strong part of the Pride’s foundation and this band mom looks forward to watching her shine!!

My Heroes Are Band Kids

It’s not a coincidence that this year’s marching theme is “Super Heroes”.  During band camp each student chose their own super hero name and have been working hard to capture the spirit of Superman, Batman and Spiderman on the field.  And while we may think that it takes super strength or flying to be a super hero it might surprise you to know that all it really takes is to have a compassionate heart.  The students who make up The Pride of Hennessey not only showed that compassion, but also dedication, honor and as it states in their name, pride.

Right now, the band is going through a difficult time learning to deal with and understand the hardship that Bradley is going through.  Not only is this a hard path for Brad, but it is for the Pride as well.  It’s not an easy thing to grasp, understanding what it means for someone you care for so much to have cancer.  Not at the age of 13…..not at the age of 30.  And in the middle of all the emotions, these kids are trying to stay focused to not only keep up with their school work and sports they are also trying nail down a field show and parade marching technique.  And they are doing this without a key member of the team.  Lingering in the back of their minds while trying to focus on their daily routine is the fact that their friend is lying in a hospital bed fighting an extremely hard fight.

So now, I’m going to brag on these students just a little bit.  Last Saturday the Pride had their first contest of the season in Perry.  After they got home, they were right back at the band room in the evening, watching film and then hitting the street for more practice.  But that’s not all they did.  Every section recorded a get well message for Bradley, and every student in each section sent him a message letting him know how much he means to them and that they hope he gets well soon.  And through the power of this wonderful invention called the internet and facebook, Bradley was able to see those videos the very next day.  The following Monday, the band traveled to the State Fair to compete in the parade, and while the competition didn’t turn out as favorable as the band would have liked, that performance was NOT the most important one of the day.  That afternoon, the Pride went to OU Medical Center to visit with Bradley and perform for him.  And while he has heard the songs many times, I’m sure that THIS time was, pardon the pun, music to his ears and the most amazing and wonderful performance he had heard this group of kids perform.  Adding to how special the event was, Channel 9 news made this the story of the day and Channel 4 showed up at the hospital as well.  This performance meant as much to the kids as it did to Bradley.

True super heroes come in the form of woodwinds, brass players, percussionists and color guard teams.  They also come in the form of band directors and everyday people who show compassion to those in need of it.  We can’t fix the situation, and we can’t be in Oklahoma City every day, BUT we CAN keep posting notes of encouragement on a facebook page.  We can record a video and upload it to youtube.  We can tie an orange ribbon on the antenna of our car and wear one as a symbol that Bradley is not fighting cancer alone.  Most of all we can pray for our friend.  It doesn’t take a super power to make a super hero.  It takes a compassionate heart, and I’m so proud to be a band mom of so many awesome super heroes hailing from Pride High!

Seeing Orange

We always want to believe that it will never happen to us or someone that we are close to.  But the hard honest truth is, cancer is no respecter of person.  Facts are, someone dear to everyone connected to the band is back on the front lines of that battlefield.  Stronger fact is, he is not alone, he has an army of people standing with him, praying for him.

Bradley is not just Mr Steuart’s assistant, or just the bus driver, or just a photographer.  Bradley is an amazing individual who goes out of his way to make sure that things within the band are running smoothly, who is constantly helping within his church, and who is a true friend to everyone he comes in contact with.  He is one of the greatest people that you will ever meet, and I hope he knows how well he is thought of and how much he is appreciated.

I hope that every person who takes the time to read this will post an orange ribbon on their facebook page and take a moment to make a post of encouragement on Bradley’s.  And Bradley, if you are reading this, I just want to extend a personal thank you for all the work that you have done day in and day out to help make the Pride of Hennessey a better band.  You are an important factor in the equation for greatness.  May you get well soon and be back with us as soon as you are able.

Confessions of a Senior Mom Part 1

Well, last night was the beginning of the end.  The beginning of those final events of the high school season of my oldest son’s life.  With the homecoming parade and ringing of the bell ceremony, I got a harsh dose of reality.  While in the back of my mind I knew my “little boy” wasn’t my little boy anymore, I came face to face with how real it now is.  My son, my precious boy is a young man stepping into the last year of what would be considered his childhood and each “last” moment has a more special and filled with more precious meaning than ever before.

If you know my son, then you know that he isn’t one to get in front of crowds and do anything, unless he is performing with the band.  The last I knew, he wasn’t going to speak at the ringing of the bell ceremony.  Not his cup of tea, to coin the cliche’.  Then, out of nowhere, he stood before his fellow classmates, band mates, students, parents and teachers and spoke of how the class was a family and it needed to stay that way.  Had I known, I would have gotten video instead of still shots, which were hard to get as it was, because this senior mom was trying very hard not to cry.  To see him step out of himself and his comfort zone and take a moment that will never come again, and be part of something so special.  I am beyond proud of him.  Words can not even begin to express what my heart is feeling.

It was also the last high school homecoming parade that he will march in.  And to see him own it, the street, his performance, his marching.  He has so much talent it is just scary.  Tonight, he will attend his final high school homecoming game and march on the field for the first game of the season.  He told his dad and I that we needed to be at the band room before the band marches to the field because he would be giving a speech (and I am assuming the other seniors will as well) to the band.  Again, this non-speech making boy trying to be inspiring to his band mates as this will be the last homecoming he shares with them.

I am just a jumble of emotion right now and I know it’s not going to get easier.  But I will say this, I do not plan to miss a single moment of his senior year.  I plan to be there with camera and tissue in hand archiving every ounce of it.  I am so proud of the man he is becoming and while I look forward to him stepping into the next phase of his life and can’t wait to share it with him, my heart is grieving for the loss of the little boy that was.  For the awkward teenager trying to figure it all out.  But as hard as it is, it is rewarding as well, to look at this young man and being able to say, “He’s mine.  He belongs to me.  My joy, my sunshine, and as his name means, my gift of God.”